Poem found here: "Sky Burial" by Ron Koertge
A response through metaphor. This poem utilizes many rhetorical techniques to support the metaphorical answer. And, the focus is the metaphorical answer. The wind-up, and the rhetorical devices and techniques to lead up to the metaphorical answer are deceptively humane.
But let's start with a question, "Q. You're Such a Disciplined Writer. Were You Always That way?" Note that this is a question that the speaker will answer but as a poem this is a construct the speaker creates. This may be a personal response, but this poem concerns the construct of the "Disciplined Writer."
And so the answer:
The first stanza focuses on the time frame and sets up a scene for the exact moment -- that metaphorical answer, "When I was in graduate school, I worked part-time at a local / library."
Then there's the mention of the regulars, "I learned to know the regulars who talked about living with pain / and waiting for bland meals to be delivered." Yes, there could be something taken away with the specific image of the regulars -- complaints of pain and bland meals as though the regulars are part of the scene, just some backdrop to go along with a basement.
But then the poem switches to something learned:
"One sweltering afternoon I read about Tibetan body breakers
who dismember corpses with their hatchets and flaying knives
so the vultures will have an easier time."
Note how the body breakers relate back to the pain to the body of the regulars. And also note the "bland meal" is grisly parallel to the bodies of corpses. Easier time.
Then the relation to the image to the metaphor:
"I imagined my own body and the monks asking, 'What did this one
do?' And the answer would be, 'Not much.' As the hand I could
have written with flew away from the wrist."
Past me wrote "regret through image" and it's pretty apparent at the end. But note that the regret is first characterized through the perception of the imagined the monk answering a question within a question, "Not much." And then the regret is then actualized through a metaphor -- not a direct answer an implied one.