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To the Med School Student Whose Anatomy-Class Cadaver is My Best Friend

Shannon Frost Greenstein

Her mother called

and said she was dead

after 38 years and

a stomach full of whiskey

and pills.


Do you know any funeral homes in the city?

she asked.

I don’t know her life up there.


Twenty years of memories

flowing through my hippocampus

the journey from who I was

to whom I might someday be

always with her by my side.


That’s because you never understood her

I want to say.

That’s because she never fit in.


Too smart for her own good,

cowed by the weight

of depression and angst,

an “other” in every sense of the word,

her father was the one

who made the correct decision.


We’re donating her body to science

her mother says, another phone call

emerging from the sea of grief.

We think that’s what she would have wanted.


She would have.




To the med student whose anatomy-class cadaver is my best friend:


She didn’t like pizza.

She always shared her weed.

She had a work ethic like none other.

She loved fiercely

and without judgement.

She was an artist.


To the med student whose anatomy-class cadaver is my best friend:


She always took care of me when I was drunk.

She stayed with me when I was lost in darkness.

She held my hand each time

I chose to modify my body.

She came to my baby shower

even with a sprained ankle

and introduced me

to all my favorite art.


To the med student whose anatomy-class cadaver is my best friend:


We would spend hours, evenings, entire seasons

driving in her car, windows down, cigarette smoke winding sinuously

into the dark of the summer nights, music flowing and gossip bubbling and dreams being birthed, hopes for the future hesitantly spoken aloud without fear of mockery

pining over boys,

arguing over boys,

crying over boys, 

always returning to the sanctity of our friendship for comfort.


To the med student whose anatomy-class cadaver is my best friend:


Please see her tattoos.

Please see her journey.

Please see her heart

and her struggles

and her victories

and her worth.


Because she might be your anatomy-class cadaver

but once,

she was my best friend.

Shannon Frost Greenstein (she/her) resides in Philadelphia with her children and soulmate. She is the author of “These Are a Few of My Least Favorite Things”, a full-length book of poetry available from Really Serious Literature, and “Pray for Us Sinners,” a short story collection with Alien Buddha Press. Shannon is a former Ph.D. candidate in Continental Philosophy and a multi-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Pithead Chapel, Bending Genres, and elsewhere. Follow Shannon at or on Twitter at @ShannonFrostGre.

Nikki Gonzalez
Letter From the Editor

Shannon Frost Greenstein
Your Requiem is on My Playlist

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