The Pathologist’s Report

The Pathologist’s Report

“This is the body of a tall, fit, well-built young man.”

Lying here on the slab, stitched from the navel to the chaps,
they’ve done your hair all wrong.

I’ll pull it back down your forehead, cover the two deep gouges
parallel as tracks cutting into your gorgeous face.
Wouldn’t want you to look uncool.
Your nose, I see is patched together with skin-coloured filler.
No in or out breath at all. Can’t put that together.

O the pity of it.

Apart from the abrasions on your beautiful hands
and the wreckage of your face, you are dead perfect.
Not a broken bone apart from the one
around your neck, your twenty-first present,
I see it’s split in two.

Your cock lolls to one side as I pull back the sheet to
check that it is really you, not some changeling they’ve swapped.
You are starting to smell of embalming fluid, drowned in it
so I’m still not sure. You were always so shower-fresh.

I’m stealing now from the dead, taking your wedding ring away,
freshly cut, to give to our son when his tiny hands turn
to
man’s hands. Right now they wave in the air, clutching at nothing.
This numb thing is not you surely?

Both of us are sucking our fists at night, it stops my screaming.

Don’t fret, your son is sleeping, looked after by our friend
while I am down here in the morgue looking at you, for you.
You seemed to have slipped by me, whistled off to climb I suppose,
what do I tell him when he’s old enough to understand?

You do know, he’ll never be old enough. I’m going home now
betraying you by leaving. Now you know how it feels.
It’s cold here and you won’t speak to me.
I want to lay my hand on a warm cheek, lean over him
and check his faint breath for life and catch my breath with love
when his eyes open and he recognises me and smiles.

Lie there then, with your eyes shut against me.
Mine stare at the dark all night, dry and open,
Hearing you trip and fall, seeing you
silently, desperately grasping at crumbling rock after rock.
They all let you down.

I really am going now. You’ll be sorry you
Let me go, you know. Alright then, one kiss and
I’ll be off.

Sue Heggie

5 thoughts on “The Pathologist’s Report

  1. Hinematau McNeill

    You sent me this poem when we were colleagues – just before you officially retired. Reading it now it has the same impact as the first time around. So strangely devoid of sentiment it is even more poignant for that. This has got to be one of my favourites of all time really captures the intensity of loss, yearning and love. Absolutely beautiful.

    Reply
    1. Sue Post author

      Kia ora and thank you. I am very appreciative of your taking the time to read and respond and an glad that this struck a chord. S

      Reply
  2. Mary

    I agree with Hinematau, have read this several times before but it still catches in my throat. Beautiful, angry and full of loss. Heartfelt writing and again Suzie, very clever. X

    Reply
  3. faye

    Completely captures the unbelief, loss, anger and numbness that accompanies sudden accidental death. I am too familiar with the morticians slab.

    Reply
    1. Sue Post author

      Thank you Kay for taking the time to read it. Much appreciated. Sorrry though, to hear you are too familiar with the mortician’s slab.

      Reply

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