Mortality and Morbidity Conference
Rosemary Zimmermann ~
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.
About the poet:
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."
Johanna Shapiro and Stacy Nigliazzo