Forms of Death

skater_05.gifYesterday I was surrounded by dead bodies who were arranged in such a lifelike way. I was leading a tour of Bodyworlds 2 in Boston; the exhibits, though still, exuded movement – especially Von Hagen’s dancer and yoga poses, ball kicker, the exploded person, the diver going two directions at once, and even the casts of arteries and the split camel spoke of inner movement, red with passion.

Today, at home in the silver snow, another form of death: It’s been a bad week in Quan’s rabbitat: through happenstance or some strange disease, bunnies are dying. Perdu was waiting for me, outside in a box. He, like the exhibits, seemed so lifelike, except in the eye. Von Hagens obviously finds the same – the exhibits had glass eyes – especially the pregnant woman, so full of promise and small inverted baby, so obviously dead, yet so imbued with life with her eyelashes and insouciant pose, and green glass eyes.

Perdu’s eye is a little shrunken, a little open, I have to convince myself to do as I’m requested – an autopsy (‘see for yourself’) to see if I can determine why he died. I grasp his cold but not entirely rigorous form, and insinuate the shears through his fur, split him and fold the skin back, exposing the belly muscles. These also are divided, and the fatty omentum removes easily to expose the organs – shining clean, movable – again so lifelike.

And so similar to us – all the organs the same, the muscles nearly the same, the chemistry all but identical – it takes as much complexity in anatomy and physiology to build something as simply motivated as a rabbit as it does to build us.
I wish I could find something, but nothing is awry. The guts are intact, the lungs and heart seem normal, the stomach, full of carrots, has a little gas, but after two days, even in the cold, what do you expect? Quan insists her book will be called The Fragile Rabbit, and I’ve been agitating for the Agile Rabbit or somethig more positive, but now, looking at the packed, shiny, and scrupulously clean organs in the cold body, consigning him back to the box where he will be carried to the woods, I am inclined to agree with her. I have no knowledge, and little solace, and a lurking dread of my own fragility. I have a friend who has just told us she’s ill, she’s younger than me.

Another rabbit, Biscuit, died tonight. Given that she has 100, and it’s been years, she’s been lucky, but now that it has hit us, whatever plague or run of bad luck this is, one feels helpless – but not like a few weeks ago, when the storm (see Black Clad Char) made me feel like an ant. Now I feel like the pitiful helpless giant America has become, standing over the little charge it had inadvertantly let die, with big clumsy hands, wondering what we did wrong when we had the best of intentions. This is 4 rabbits gone in two weeks; I hope this is the end of this run. It’s a gibbous moon tonight.


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