Mortality and Morbidity Conference

Mortality and Morbidity Conference

I imagined something Victorian.
Perhaps I imagined a lecture hall filled with side-whiskered,
Sherlockian doctors, arguing case histories
like gentlemen playing chess with death–
or perhaps I imagined priests,
performing absolution at the bier.

I did not have to imagine the grey
underground conference room.
I was unsurprised at the bitter
coffee, the keening of the projector, the recalcitrant
bangs from the water pipes–

surprised only, perhaps, at the heavy thump
of the mundane: morbidity startling like turnips;
mortality remarkable as rain.

Rosemary Zimmermann is a nurse practitioner in Albany, NY. She lives with her small child, her cat and an inordinate number of books.

About the Poem

“At my first M&M conference, I was struck by the juxtaposition of the tragic and the banal. As I reflected, I realized that all tragedy is like that: situated firmly in the everyday. We only elevate it in our imaginations. I also wanted to see if I could successfully use the word ‘turnip’ in a poem.”

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