Boethius’ Body

Jacob Eigen

A few years after the execution, when it had completed its time as a corpse
and had transformed into moisture and rot, the matter
that had once composed the body of Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
was shoveled into a wheelbarrow and moved to the crypt of a church. At least
this was true of the skeleton, while the eyes the soldiers squeezed from the head
had already deteriorated, as had the brain that leaked out
when they bludgeoned the body to death. “Take unity away from a thing
and existence too ceases,” that brain had once thought. And in the moment
it transmitted this thought to the muscles in the hand, it must have felt
relief to finally describe itself—a provisionally unified thing
tilting its head to the side and smiling. While outside its cell,
its captors threw knuckles of animal bone down the long Roman table.

Jacob Eigen is a poet and fiction writer. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Salmagundi, The Iowa Review, and The New Republic.
Originally published:
September 1, 2020


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Jacob Eigen