Lantern Review | Issue 9.2

Rachael Lin Wheeler

The Surgeon

Winds grind metal-like through / this evening & again I imagine myself
as the child/surgeon from the altar in the woods outside/ my bedroom
window, jaundiced/light tumbling over the site of that cruel / ritual.
She wore a white coat. / Leaned over the undead body—no, I will not
believeit was mine—its limbs/ hanging over the dark stone slab—eyes
closed, & how the child hated this. It is easy/to remember: it was raining:
the sky’s stitches/ unwoven.Like millions of little gods/launching
raindrops through tender wounds glinting/like stars,or blades.

This was the ritual: the girl / with the scalpel & small gloved hands—anesthesia vials / run
dry—arriving night after night. The moonlight / ricocheting off the body’s chest:soft
& holy. Rising & falling. She was here / to remove every dead thing rotting
inside./Each small carcass now unhidden.An incision—& smoke billowed out like one
great ghost/coated in ash. Again—& the sound/was either bullet or windchime.I tell
myself / this is not what it is like to love every untouched part / of my body
without forgetting the feel of it: retrieving each remnant of selfhood left to me,
the ancient, blood-soaked glass/buried inside each tired organ. Surviving it.

Rachael Lin Wheeler currently attends Washington University in St. Louis as a Howard Nemerov Writing Scholar and is a 2021 Adroit Journal Summer Mentee. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her writing and photography have been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Her poetry appears in The West Review, Ghost City Review, Hominum Journal, Plum Recruit Mag, and SOFTBLOW, among others. Serving as the editorial assistant for EX/POST MAGAZINE, Rachael Lin is also the founder and editor of Vox Viola Literary Magazine. She is prone to 2 a.m. laundry folding and can be found on Twitter (@rachaellin_) or at

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