SK Rancy

Medicine-Man as Sisyphus

Il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux
—Albert Camus, Le mythe de Sisyphe

Hands unsoiled
with longing
& loss

by death
or despair :

how could so light
a man
bear such
a burden ?
what balm
do you offer ?
what people
do you reach across the divide
to touch ?

give me the stone
I have already
thrown out the years
for you
my eyes
& sealed up my mouth
a nameless ascetic
for some great
I will never understand

am castrated
for my hubris
of thought —
that I might touch
the world
like Atlas
wishing myself a titan
only to leave
a shadow
over sand

at least
I have in me
a fire to save
the living, even from
that the onus is mine
that there may be joy in this, too
like lightning
against the rocks
that the hours are holy—the labor
& not the climb

if you love me
let me push it :
give me



Osteogenesis Imperfecta

See the child
he is black
& thin
the white sclera
of his eyes tinged
a faint
blue —

under radiography
thin white cortices
of fractured bone
A defect
in the gene , the chemistry
of collagen
an aberration :
bones like glass ,
the femur
a catastrophe ,
fragments flung out
like a burst of dust
at the beginning of time , a galaxy
spiraling into being

What says the priest
of the great Arbiter
doling out cruel fate
                     on a whim ?

“Nihil dicit”
The priest
does not say
The priest
does not command
the falling stars
or the cracking open
of the sky
to let loose
an egg of thunder
or the breaking of the sun
upon the world
& neither does man

But the surgeon
the pieces of
this boy’s world
into order
autonomous no more ;
stands over the body
corralling a symphony
of bone and metal , screws
and marrow, nerves and blood
— into unity

Of the inherent
in existence
carve out
an instant
of perfection




The anatomist subscribes
to an ordered existence — believes

                     the glowing planets are organized only
                     by the logic of physics & astronomers, spinning

perfectly, like dinner plates revolving
on sticks. What a magic show. As if

                     it were not all happenstance.
                     As if the eye might not as well have been

a hungry mouth, to part the lips
& take you in. As if it were destined.

                     I remember Darwin in the Galápagos, crouching
                     amongst birds and yellow flowers in the fields.

Volcanoes adrift in the Pacific, rife
with possibility, the secret

                     of Nabokov’s butterflies. Take for instance
                     the body: a cadaver on cool steel table

beneath the medical student’s uncertain
hands. She is becoming

                     a deconstructionist, dissecting out
                     mystery. The heart at the center. Barthes says

meaning is derived here. Imagine
the pumping meat, a shock of red

                     amidst the cyclic swelling
                     of the lungs. Engulfed. Devoured. Anemones

scattered against black rock before
the surging tide. A landscape of beauty

                     is always an accident. The singularity you’re seeking
                     is a gull’s cry and crash of seafoam.

Come in, go out. Come in, go out
into the open air.



SK Rancy is a writer born to Haitian immigrants in South Florida. He is a graduate of Columbia University, where he earned a BA in English & comparative literature and biology. His poetry has been longlisted for Button Poetry's Chapbook Contest, a finalist for Tupelo Quarterly's Poetry Prize, and has been published or is forthcoming in Columbia New Poetry, Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, Ars Medica, Apogee, Seventh Wave, Moko Magazine, Adirondack Review, Porridge Magazine, and Sargasso: A Journal of Caribbean Literature, Language & Culture. His unpublished novel Beyond The Baths Of Stars was a semi-finalist for Black Lawrence Press’ Big Moose Prize and a finalist for the University of New Orleans’ Publishing Laboratory Contest. His debut full poetry collection, Dreams Of Diaspora, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in 2023. In his spare time, he is a surgical resident in Manhattan.