BODY OF WISDOM | Lailah Shima


Her surgeon’s

radical cystectomy notes

splayed on the table, she sees

what her body knew, sleeping

in a steep Trendelenburg tilt,

his deft hands carving

ports of entry,

insufflating her abdomen.

The robot assistant docked

between her legs,

its talons reaching in,

slicing serous scrim

of peritoneum,

open empty space

of Retzius, clip

quivering pedicles

and suspensory ligaments,


and pluck

diseased organs

from her pelvis.

Her body a river


clearing debris

yielding ease

spilling light.


With a bow to Karen Maezen Miller and her post-op haze-piercing words: Your body is the body of wisdom.

Lailah Dainin Shima lives and writes in Wisconsin, where she’s a single mom of teenagers, an aspiring hospice chaplain, and a practitioner of Zen Buddhism. It also so happens that she has survived cancer, finding deeper healing every step of the way.