Its function, we guessed, was to become infected, burst open, kill us
if we've let it fester too long; or at best
to twinge now and then, reminding us of our mortality.
Just a vestige, we thought, like the tiny reptilian brain
that warns of approaching dinosaurs, like the tonsils extruded because
why not? And ice cream was served as a soother.
Now we know – from its ignominious placement near the bowels
it produces a serum that smooths the process of nourishment.
Not till it screams in pain do we remember
the glands and organs that work the body's dark caverns
for years, doing their jobs in silence
the way miners labor deep under ground, machines made of flesh
that absorb the poisons, produce the wealth that allows
the body to thrive. Then they wear out; or some flaw in the system
caves or explodes. And they're trapped in their agony.
Then come the sirens, the digging, the desperate attempts at rescue.