Anders Carlson-Wee


For a couple of years I volunteered
at the prosthetics center in the south wing
of St. Mary’s Memorial. Every Thursday
I pushed the lab equipment up against
the walls, mopped the floor, moved it back.
I was basically a janitor, but they called
me a Lab Assistant, trying to make it
sound important. All the patients who
came in were missing something. Usually
it was an arm or a leg. A clean loss.
A stub that still moved. The kind of thing
you would think of. But other times
it wasn’t. This one guy had skin
where his nostrils should be. A fire maybe.
This girl was missing three fingers and part
of her palm. Probably an accident
with a handgun, but she was so young.
I would mop the floor and try to guess
what had happened to everyone. Watch
as they practiced walking across the room
with silicone toes. Listen carefully
as they dropped spoons on the clean floor
from experimental hands.

Anders Carlson-Wee was a professional rollerblader before he studied wilderness survival and started hopping freight trains to see the country. He has traveled through the forests of the South, the cornfields of the Midwest, the prairies of the West, and the blue-hued mountains of Alaska, eating food out of dumpsters and trashcans to avoid having to stop and get a job. Anders is an MFA candidate in poetry at Vanderbilt University, where he has received the graduate Topping Up Award. He is the winner of a 2012 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, and was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in Best New Poets, New Delta Review, Bluestem Quarterly, and elsewhere.