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Wednesday, July 18, 2007


by Rochelle Ratner

"Stace Owens has no intention of leaving this world when he dies. He plans to stick around for decades or longer -- preserved in plastic and displayed in a museum or medical school. The 33-year-old Dallas real estate agent is among more than 7,000 people who have agreed to donate their bodies for plastination."
-- AP, April 23, 2007

They lived through two Depressions, and World War II when metal was scarce. Their children's lives would be better. They bought red plastic tricycles and blue plastic wagons. The swing set out back was plastic, as was the slide. They had plastic guns and little plastic radios with plastic belt clips. They had pink plastic roller skates and plastic lunch boxes with Barbie's picture on the front. Foods came wrapped in plastic. They put white vinyl siding on their houses. Plastic pins that could be set in fractured knees or hips delighted them. But had they ever imagined bodily fluids replaced by liquid plastic after death--no formaldehyde, no discoloration, no smell--they might well have slaughtered their children some Christmas morning sixty years ago, hacked up body parts until it was impossible to know which was a son's, which was a daughter's.

Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Leads (Otoliths Press, 2007), Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.