Dressing the Body

Posted: July 11, 2010 in My Poetry
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We arrive at the mortuary,
to find you clothed only
in a human-shaped
plastic bag
which we’re commanded
not to remove.
Duct taped at the neck,
wrists and ankles –
Fluid leakage might occur,
and disturb the guests
at that last party in your honor,
you were rude enough
not to attend.

hold you together,
like suitcase zippers
going down your chest
and the insides of both legs.
The benefits of being an organ donor.
They assured us
it was almost unnoticeable.
I suppose they didn’t realize
we would dress you
for this occasion;
considered their lie thoughtful.
Maybe they didn’t care –
Just wanted whatever organs
you could provide;
after all, that’s what they do.

Rusty stains cloak
much of your skin,
hospital strength disinfectant.
Did they worry that you
might become infected?
Use proper surgical procedure,
despite the toe-tag
telling them that you
were just a shell.

We discovered quickly,
in trying to dress you
for your final show,
that you were like a Ken doll:
stiff and hardly malleable.
Still, your corpse was dressed,
with the most loving care.
Though your limbs
felt like rubber over concrete,
and hardly bent at all.

Your hands, scarred
from lighter burns and cuts
are like tightly packed,
Halloween gloves, spray painted
a subtly shiny flesh color.
I suppose they meant you
to look more respectable.
We loved you like you were.
They are not your hands:
those thin, eloquent story tellers –
They belong to someone else.

Finally your hair is done,
cologne on, tie cleverly
knotted in such a way
as to prevent voyeurs
from trying to see
the deep dent in your neck.

You are handsome,
as always;
stylish and lifelike…
except for your lips.
They’re flesh colored
not living red;
you had very
colorful lips for a man.
Mortician’s mistake
we’re afraid to fix.
We don’t want you
to look like a clown
so we forgo the temptation
of lipstick, but at the viewing,
it bothers everyone
who knew you:

the real you.
Not that empty shell
with nobody inside.

  1. Karla says:

    Horrible. Not the poem but story told through the poem. I never asked about that day, I guess I couldn’t handle hearing about it. I am sorry, sickened and sad. It seems too much for anyone to bear.

    • Yes, it’s horrible but it was catharsis for me to write. I warned people on my Twitter page it was macabre but I guess you don’t get to my page through Twitter…sorry – I should have warned you. It was just something for me to purge. It was the last earthly gift that Ruth felt she could give him. You know how vain Ty was. She wanted him to look perfect for the viewing.

  2. Thanks Mark. How have you been? Better I hope. God bless you too.

  3. mark byrd says:

    May GOD Bless!!! Mark

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