What he takes from her is small—

a dense sample—and he smuggles it back


to the States in an empty bottle,

wraps it in a sock, buries it in his suitcase.


There is no other way to know,

though he has suspicions,


sends it off to a lab in his city

to be stained, magnified,


examined between glass slides

beneath a microscope.


The word pathology

derives from the Greek


for the study of pain and suffering.

This desire to help others


is a kind of knowledge—

translational here, it moves


between the work of research

and the practice of medicine.


Clinical nature and site noted:

Left posterior mandible.


Eleven slides: cell nuclei stained

blue, cytoplasmic parts pink.


The body, rendered in contrast,

abstract art. Peripheral cells


cuboid to columnar, tumor islands

exhibiting hyper-cellularity,


depicting mitotic figures

and sequestrum (dead bone).