This week’s joke, sharing a view of myself
as a corpse. The autopsy table, by the way,
is metal, not designed for comfort. A makeup woman
spreads blue-gray color all over me, toning down
my overly bright nipples with a camel-hair
brush. The hardest part is holding my breath
while the scalpel, a real one held as a prop,
touches along the hairs of my chest.

The photo’s a souvenir of a day’s work
and my own memento mori. Haven’t I gone
through this before, this rehearsal, anesthetized
for dire medical tests or surgery? Can jokes
or practice insulate from reality? There’s no pain
when the clown crashes flat to the tanbark;
we can joke with the hangman or portray a comic
executioner—I’ve done that too.

Playacting offers the pretense that we can rise
again. Some actors slept in coffins; a tailor
can measure you for a shroud; the devout wear
white clothes on Yom Kippur to acknowledge
inevitable death. We enact insanity—weird
loves—murder, as slayer or victim—so why not
practice dying? Then we get up, put on
our clothes, drive ourselves home.

View the autopsy here, at :02:


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