HOW TO DISPOSE OF A DEAD BODY

KATHLEEN KIRK

First, make sure it is dead.
(Imagine the horror of waking up
discarded, or in parts.)
Your compassion for the dead body
should insure your careful attention to its disposal,
but you must also maintain
a kind of distance from the object,
the dispassionate stance of a doctor, mortician, or poet.
From this distance, you will not care
whether the body is male or female,
elderly or child,
though my pen trembles to write the word “child.”
To halt or prevent any trembling,
look closely at the face of the dead body
to assure yourself of the absence
of any real or remaining personality.
The face should be blank,
the body dull as wax.
Now, you may proceed.
If you have the proper instruments at hand
(sharp tools, a large tub),
drain the body of its fluids.
If you have hunted deer or wild boar,
or if you are a butcher,
you will know how to do this.
It also depends on whether you have handy
a strong rope or shackles and chains,
a hook, or a tree,
rubber gloves, a large white apron.
Lacking these, you may leave all fluids
inside the body.
After all, this is about disposal,
not embalming or funeral preparations.
Depending on the body’s volume
and the container(s) you have chosen
you may have to cut the body
down to size. Only fools
and the vengeful choose this course.
You will be wiser.
You will know that the body
can dispose of itself, if need be,
in a forest or a lovely secluded garden,
and you will transport the body
to such a place, or to the edge
of a rocky cliff, precarious above the sea.
Oddly, the dead body, even when absent
of its emotions and thoughts,
will appreciate your attention to the landscape
and the fittingness of the chosen place.
This is a mystery, a paradox
beyond reach of either passion or dispassion; accept it.
Leave the body
hidden by budding peonies, where ants
crawling across their closed petals
may be inspiration to bloom.
Leave the body
beneath the spreading magnolia,
its scented shade sweet beyond bearing.
Or tip the body gently over the cliff.
Do not watch it break
on the shining rocks
but listen to the unimpeded roar of the sea
as it takes the body’s fluids into itself,
or the empty skein of bones,
now as light as driftwood or a mess of kelp.
Leave the body
behind you now, wherever you have gone
for its disposal
and trust that even its fingerprints
shall leave no trace upon the earth.
The body is beyond you now
and does not care what happens to you,
and feels no particular gratitude toward you, now,
nor impulse toward haunting or revenge.
Any return would be imperceptible.

Design Copyright © 2004 Danni Crotzer