Pat Jones

Body Work

by Heidi Czerwiec

My friend in Sacramento drives a van
full of body bags, all different sizes.
He works for the coroner — the pick-up man
they call when unattended death arises.
He finds we die in ordinary ways.
Sure, last month he gathered a man a train
had scattered across the tracks. It took two days.
But usually they call him when a stain
from the upstairs apartment appears and drips,
when the odd smell from next door starts to reek,
when someone notices the old woman
from down the block has not been seen in a week.
Yet no one guessed. By then — “corpse soup,” he quips.
He hates these deaths — so nondescript, so human.

Heidi Czerwiec is associate professor of English at the University of North Dakota, where she directs the annual UND Writers Conference. She is the author of Hiking the Maze (Finishing Line Press, 2009), the recipient of a 2009 Bush Foundation/Dakota Creative Connections artist grant, and has poems and translations published or forthcoming in Measure, Nimrod, Evansville Review, and International Poetry Review.