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Comparative Osteology:

The next time I have chicken, I will make a wish by snapping the joined clavicles with someone I love. I now know where to shoot livestock to cause minimal suffering, should that be required, and I will not tell a farmer to first palpate the nuchal crest of his doomed animal before aiming his gun. I ran my hands along what used to be an elephant, what used to be a giraffe, what used to be a cat nine lives ago. I put my face against a horse's skull and tried to whisper requests - to see if it could whisper back and tell me of the great lush pastures on the other side.

I was always told that cane toads make a fantastic sound when stepped on. Now, I can tell you that this is because they have no rib cage - that you can open their bellies and make their organs spill out into your hands. You can also pull its poisonous skin right off its leg, almost like undressing it of socks.

This is Death, I thought. This is Splendor. This the smell of severed dog so heavy it sits on your tongue.

I found my boy, later, sitting on the stone steps we claimed, drowning ants with sweat. Then, Life floods back, in the form of careful embraces, warm muscles, and warmer smiles.


The Thoracic Limb:

They said: isolate the muscle, transect it and reflect it dorsally. Note the heads and condyles of the humerus. See the spiderweb arrangement of the brachial plexus after you have detached the limb. Follow the tendons into their areas of attachment, pull on the muscles and see the carpus flex and extend accordingly. Peel away the fasica, and be careful not to cut into the superficial nerves.

I said: Try to close the eyes of the dog so it can't see what we're doing. Is it a boy or a girl, how do you know? How old is it, how can you tell? I wonder if it had a name. I wonder if anyone stroked its fur and said, how beautiful, you look just like a tasmanian tiger. Go outside and breathe in deep, then come back in and take the dog by the paw: shake, attagirl. They'll treat you better now. We're sorry, but we're doing this for the greater good.


The Thorax:

The thoracic cavity retains the cold from the freezer, but to get to that:

You slice away skin and fur, change scalpels, hack away sheets of muscle, peel away fascia - they sound like layers of rice paper. Change scalpels, scrape away the intercostal remnants. Bring out the rib breakers, and cover your mouth if you don't want to whince, because the sound of cracking bone bounces against the hollow chest and makes a reverbrating groan like you would not believe. Cut away a nice chuck of the body wall, thinking of Adam, thinking of Eve and the life that used to be in this dog. Put your hand inside-

The first thing you encounter will be the deflated lungs, smooth and slippery and red. If you pinch a lobe between your fingers, you feel, not hear, the tiny air sacs popping, and remember playing with bubble wrap as a child. Lift this out of the way and the muscular heart becomes apparent. Slice away the pericardium and the surrounding connective tissue, making sure not to puncture any of the major arteries and veins in this area. There are nerves like parallel lines drawn in white chalk from the verterbrae. Everything shimmers, sparkling crimson, dark scarlet.

You grab the dog by the fore and hindlegs (dead weight, someone said, and that's absolutely right), flip it over exposing its right side. Whatever colour the towel covering the table was, it will now be red. Change scalpels, expose the cavity on the right side. Lift away the right lobes of the lung, find the vena cava, the azygous vein, and see, you've made a perfect hole through the centre of the animal.

By the end of this prac your gloves will look like a horror movie.


The Heart:

My friend, we have broken a heart, and please, excuse the pun. We have destroyed it quite literally; raped the outlet valves with our fingers and spilt the ventricles right open along the external lines marked by the coronary grooves. This is not what you present to a boy to tell him you love him. You cannot shatter this. Once you have suspended the whole contraption by a single string-thin chordae tendinate muscle - one of the so-called Heart Strings, you cease to be romantic about this organ.


Foetal Membranes and Circulation:

Mr. Brendan was bitter today. Someone had asked him whether the uteruses that sat on our benches have been pre-prepared especially for him to pick up. Mr. Brendan had thrown both hands into the air, his eyes twinkling, and cried, oh yes, that is how easy it is, sure!

The uterus is a shining sack, the colour and texture of soap. Be careful not to cut too deep - because once you pierce into the allantoic cavity there is no turning back. Once you pierce into the allantoic cavity, rivers and rivers of life will come flooding out to sweep you off your feet. There is angst in this bag; there is some twisted irony in the smile of the unborn lamb and its awkwardly arranged limbs. It is so white, and wet, and looks so peaceful with the idea that it had never lived, and will never live, before it wound up here in the midst of a group of children with scapels for fingers to die.

The sheep has no placenta. Knobby placentomes on the uterine wall, each the size of a meatball, exchanges nutrients between foetus and mother. You can seperate the foetal and maternal components of it by simply pulling on one end, hearing a mental pop with each placentome you take apart. The lamb grins on when you open its chest, starting at the base of the umbilical cord, to take out its heart, the length of your thumb. Observe the foetal shunts. The Foramen Ovale, or the hole in the heart; the Ductus Arteriosus, non-functional in the adult, as thick as the pulmonary trunk in the unborn. This heart will never beat. These shunts will never close. These eyes will never open.

But that smile. That lamb's smile will live on for the rest of your life.

Listen - we were told - you were lucky. It's not every year Mr. Brendan can get his hands on enough sheep uteruses from the abatoires for this prac to go ahead.

End term one.
~pardonM3 asked about anatomy. So here are the real notes I've accumulated these past six months.

If you read Mr. Brendan's Dogs, and felt confused, this should clear some things up.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2010-02-23
Notes on Anatomy by ~Ocean-Flute demonstrates that class notes can be sensory and personal while still being informative. ( Featured by SparrowSong )
:iconfrenchifries:
frenchifries Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2012  Student
Oh god, the Thoracic Limb part really choked me up.
Reply
:iconpittapoppa:
PittaPoppa Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2011
Unff.
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:iconspoems:
spoems Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2011   Writer
intoxicating language - i like falling into such richly encyclopedic alchemy.
Reply
:iconthe-beautiful-dead:
The-Beautiful-Dead Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Finally got an account here and now I can add this to my favourites!
Reply
:iconlucieniibi:
Lucieniibi Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2010  Professional General Artist
I am horrified. Tremendously disgusted and terrified by the solemn words of which you have put before my eyes....


This is much....MUCH worse than watching any horror movie ever produced or filmed.


This is- beleive it or not- worse than watching a racoon dog be skinned...ALIVE. I have seen such happen and these words have more of an affect on me.


I honestly am not sure weither I should congradulate you...or just run way screaming, as far away as I can.


Take from my words what you will.
Reply
:iconsynchro-halo:
synchro-halo Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2010
yeah, i never quite recovered from all the dissections, rethinking my career choice since i couldn't stand all the dead animals, mostly killed for your studying. unlike human cadavers for study, most of the animals we dissect and study were found and killed D': i think they should be treated better, and i decided not to go through with the animal science course O.o this is great, i admire your courage, unlike me XD congratulations on the Daily Deviation!
Reply
:iconkindfullove12:
kindfullove12 Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2010  Student General Artist
i'm not sure if this is a typo, but in the first paragraph, you spelled "elephant" wrong. you typed elepant

btw, so beautifully descriptive :heart:
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:iconocean-flute:
Ocean-Flute Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2010
Oops, my bad! Thanks for picking that up.
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:iconcheshire-shadow:
Cheshire-Shadow Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2010
It's... beautiful, in a sort of morbid kind of way. I can't help but fall in love with the way it was written. Sounds like someone who really feels like this was once alive, or was going to be alive, instead of just some meat that later winds up in a lab or a microwave.

Makes me really think about what I eat. It's wonderful. :heart:
Reply
:iconfriedemann:
Friedemann Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010   Writer
i could've read this and skipped life science. i would've retained more.

wonderful work. :clap:
Reply
:iconreve7747:
reve7747 Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
The description is so well-done that I am disgusted. I am reminded of an essay titled "The Knife", written from a surgeon's point of view... very descriptive to the point where I stopped reading because I felt grossed out.

Nice use of adjectives and action verbs.
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:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Student Writer
Wonderful; wonderful.
Reply
:icontrenching-china:
Trenching-China Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
I've taken a couple anatomy classes. Your descriptions...so vivid, yet imaginative, bring back the memories and smells and things I haven't thought about in a long time. The way you teleport people to a time...its amazing.
Reply
:iconwhitekitsune555:
whitekitsune555 Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Student Writer
"...you feel, not hear, the tiny air sacs popping, and remember playing with bubble wrap as a child."

All of the details are so powerful, but this is the one that resonated most with me. Not only is it a really effective bit of imagery, but the contrast is so strong; I can't think of a more innocent bit of fun than popping bubble wrap, but after this I don't think I'll ever think about it the same way.

This takes me back to my own days in the bio lab. I'd forgotten what it felt like to cut into a fetus. (I shouldn't have.)
Reply
:iconvital-organs:
vital-organs Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Oh the joys of anatomy lab. >.<
Reply
:iconvampyredearest:
VampyreDearest Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm not quite sure what to say... It's probably been said anyway... just wanted to express my support. Your treatment of the topic is lovely... much better than the novel I just finished reading for Lit/Comp. ;)
:+fav:
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:iconkittysteele:
KittySteele Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
There's so much emotion in this, I wanted to cry. Such a mixture of coldness, numbness, and feeling that it's simply overwhelming.
Brilliant.
Reply
:iconzorrin:
Zorrin Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Beautiful
Reply
:iconfrenchifries:
frenchifries Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Student
This... made me feel awful. In a good way. I've never quite thought about it that way... Beautiful.

It just... kind of made me want to cry; I hate the idea of dead animals. It just made me sad, even though it's a part of the world, even though they sustain our bodies, even though they provide us with scientific and medical breakthroughs... no one really gives them a chance.

What amazing, tortured mind could write such things is beyond me. I don't quite understand, but I want to try. Dark and sinister, cynical and real, yet surreally beautiful.
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
splendid! clinical, yet not soulless. you have a passion for your endeavor it is clear. death is a part of life, after all. thank you for reminding us. ;)

we were supposed to do foetal pig disections... but couldn't get any. ;p
Reply
:iconungrateful-dead:
ungrateful-dead Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
This whole thing made me shiver. It so cynically displays that most feared of science demonstrations, dissection, and yet it shows the more melancholy side of it as well... Beautiful.
Reply
:icon10010001:
10010001 Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
amazing...just beautififul
Reply
:icongorilla-ink:
goRillA-iNK Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Student General Artist
wOW What a mind you have.
Great writing I love it all even the oddest of odds.
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:iconshay123:
Shay123 Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
Wow, your words are truly enticing!

Its hard to stop reading once one has started.
Reply
:iconperidot-magelette:
peridot-magelette Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
this is sublimely and horribly written. my horror grew with each line- the death and the surgical description floored me. :+fav:
Reply
:iconeternalember:
EternalEmber Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Student General Artist
This made me happy. The part about the horse skull, the descriptions of organs. The general way it's written. Incredible. :)
Reply
:iconfelt-tip-fairys:
Felt-Tip-Fairys Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
This was written amazingly well, and with such a strong sense of understanding, as well as a sense of detachment from, the knowledge.
Indifference, yet emotional.
It brought tears to my eyes, although they didn't overflow.
Reply
:iconxandu-san:
Xandu-San Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Student General Artist
ahhh beautifully intermingled. I love the kind of outsider point of you you've got here. Kind of saddening yet necessary... very well done
Reply
:iconpoisonedrose:
poisonedrose Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
I really enjoyed this narrative. Thanks for sharing.
Reply
:iconjacobea:
Jacobea Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Certainly interesting and informative :)
Reply
:iconanasemsombra:
AnaSemSombra Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010   Traditional Artist
As someone who has been to anatomy classes and felt all the strangeness of that place, I say you're an excellent writer.
You captured it perfectly!
Reply
:iconenkaowakura:
EnkaOwakura Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
Reminded me of a poem I wrote long ago o.o But yours is amazing
Reply
:iconsanddoll:
sanddoll Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
i was half revolted and half amazed through the whole peice
im a strong willed veggitarian but you writing made it beautifull even for me
thankyou
Reply
:iconlancelotprice:
LancelotPrice Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
A unique view of the realities of life, and well written. I like the 'tone' of it, that attempt to hold off the horror by detached analysis, but not quite able to suppress it altogether.
Reply
:iconchugglepuff:
chugglepuff Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
About time! Congratulations on the DD, you deserve it! :)
Reply
:iconnia-from-next-door:
Nia-from-next-door Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
I'ma shiftee from a premed course, and now I'm under Fine Arts. The nostalgia this brings me is literal and figurative. Awesome writing. xD And I can't believe I still understand some of those terms...

Never did get to dissect a dog. Ours were cats.
Reply
:iconbigbluejake:
BigBlueJake Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Are you a veterinary school student? This took me back to second year, though it seems like you were dissecting unfixed specimens. Formaldehyde is too potent not to mention in a sensory description like this.
Reply
:iconnour-k:
Nour-K Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
:heart:
Reply
:iconannacecile:
AnnaCecile Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010  Professional Photographer
What an amazing poem. It reminds me a lot of the work of Galway Kinnell. You really have a talent.
Reply
:iconaraic:
Araic Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
i like your bit on the thoracic limb. You've got the conflict between what they're saying and what your thinking down really well. it reminds me of my first disection. (we named ours Cheese cake).
Reply
:iconsilmalia:
Silmalia Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
I study medecine, thought we do not do dissections yet. But this is ... wow!
Reply
:iconninjamiki:
NinjaMiki Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
This is truly beautiful imagery combined with a troubling theme. I really loved it! I wish my notes sounded this good!
Reply
:iconbibliolepticattack:
BibliolepticAttack Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
Dear God. Jesus Christ. I'm dizzy.
This. Thisthisthis is wonderful.
Reply
:iconlit-twitter:
Lit-Twitter Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
Chirp, congrats on the DD, it's been twittered. :)
Reply
:iconiamtehninjawaffle223:
This really hit home with me for some reason.
A lot of things I've seen/heard about dissection and anatomy study are cold and calculated, and I never really thought about how it must FEEL to do this, to watch it.
This was chilling and touching at the same time.
It made a little sick and it made me want to cry, but I most definitely learned from it.
Reply
:iconiamtehninjawaffle223:
This really hit home with me for some reason.
A lot of things I've seen/heard about dissection and anatomy study are cold and calculated, and I never really thought about how it must FEEL to do this, to watch it.
This was chilling and touching at the same time.
It made a little sick and it made me want to cry, but I most definitely learned from it.
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010   Writer
I was saying to my friend James the other day that I wanted to see more gore in modern literature. Well, here it is, in wonderful vivid technicolor! I think I have never read anything so gross and yet so bloody fascinating.
Reply
:iconzomas-m:
ZomaS-M Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
I'm floored, to be blunt. This is so beautifully phrased, the ideas so captivating, your visuals so hypnotizing... It speaks with both the voice of a wisened educator and an ever-feeling human being, which is an enchanting combination. I can't tell you how much I love this.

Congratulaions on the DD; you definitely deserve it for this piece. :clap: Take a bow!
Reply
:iconchugglepuff:
chugglepuff Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2008
I'd love to talk to you in person... you say things in the most unique way.
That last section was truly exceptional.
Reply
:iconocean-flute:
Ocean-Flute Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2008
I'm really very boring in person. :) But thanks!
Reply
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