John Estes

He's oddly surprised how calm
the presence of gleaming steel

instruments, the array of scalpels
and white gauze, makes him. This,

he sees with secret relief, is a man's
realm. He knows, among little else,

that Apollo, that old sun god, did
it first, extracting Asclepius,

the first healer, after opening
dead Coronis with a stylus. He

knows Macbeth was overthrown
by a thane not born of woman.

"Untimely ripp'd," he recalls,
with a wince. No one chooses—

would they?—unless emergency
demands it—but that's not still

choosing, and not the case. No time
for thinking, as he snaps his gown

in place. Nor for elegy, or paean,
after what he's seen tonight.

The drape comes on; he feels wrong
to be fascinated—but surely others

among the group quiver or flinch
at each incision, or lock their knees—

surprised how shiny guts are.




Note: About 30% of all births in America are by caesarian section, up from less than 5% in 1970. This is perverse.