Emily Dickinson, First Year Medical Student

I wrote this poem after visiting a morgue at the Medical University of South Carolina.  You can read about the visit here.

Emily Dickinson, First Year Medical Student

their nightingales and psalms

 

Far removed from vanity

The old man lies exposed,

His organs sporting flags

Like holes of a golf course.

 

Nose and Ears are hairy;

He used to be a Man

Who ate beets – burped – blinked in the Sun –

It used to be Man.

 

Now disarticulated,

The antithesis of sentimentality,

Resting in pieces

Like left over turkey.

 

Yes, I have become accustomed

To hanging out with the Dead,

Assuming a cool, ironic air,

Pulling intestines like thread,

 

But when I die, I want my Lodging

As plush as plush can be,

For I have learned this lesson

In Gross Anatomy:

 

In spite of all

The noble palaver,

It’s impossible to respect

A desiccated cadaver.