Tour of the Morgue

Author | Martin Golan

Jean-Pierre Lahary, the magician of the morgue
yanks open a refrigerated drawer at Bellevue
and out rolls a six-foot man, naked
tattooed, and very, very dead. His jeans and yellow T-shirt
are gathered in a plastic bag by a bare big toe
Lahary is suave, his French accent thick
He eyes the corpse
“An interesting case,” he remarks
as he steers you into the autopsy room
The tour of the morgue has begun

Pathologists and medical students discuss exams
as they lift out hearts and kidneys, scratch them with a wire brush
and weigh them on a shivering scale
You stand in a blue-tiled room, eight bodies flat on slabs
and no profundities or revelations
just goofy jokes
and tips on how to cram
for anatomy exams
Lahary is an expert on the causes of death:
How bullets lodge in organs
How knives slide between ribs to kill
“He’s a goddamn magician,” an assistant whispers

All the bodies before you
are too large in death, or is it that death
is too large in them?
Astonishing: death without awe
without pathos or grief or respect
There is nothing here, you realize
Nothing at all. No answers, no wonder, only clues
to yesterday’s stabbing, but little to solve
the vast and eternal enigma of death
Nature’s only perfect crime

About the Author | Martin Golan’s poetry has appeared in many publications, including “Poet Lore,” “The Pedestal. Magazine,” and “The Dos Passos Review.” He’s also published a novel, “My Wife’s Last Lover,” and a collection of short stories, “Where Things Are When You Lose Them.” In addition, he was associate editor of the poetry magazine Bitterroot for several years.

His book of poetry, “A Note of Consolation for Lucia Joyce,” will be published early next year.

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