Poems on Body Donation

The below are a collection of poems. Please do use them and credit the author.

Confessions of a Second Year

I did not want to meet you,

I feared the day our paths would cross.

Not because of blood, or nausea- But because I knew what it meant.

Your heart had ceased. Your soul departed.


Where had you gone? What had you seen? How did it feel?

And, more importantly- who had you left behind?

These were all the questions I had, the very first time we met. Although, even if I could have asked you- I wouldn’t have Because you were a stranger-

And that would be rude!

So, for the next few weeks I tried to stick to small talk.

Focus on the science.

Cling to the dissection notes.

I marveled at the complexity of your body

Traced the networks of arteries and veins and capillaries and nerves and nodes and fibres and….


Then it hit me!

I knew more about your insides than I did my own.

And yet- I didn’t know what made you tic.

I didn’t know what made you happy, or sad, or angry, or mad.

I didn’t know the last time you cried,

Or the last movie you watched.

I didn’t know the people you loved, Or the lives you’d changed.

But… I knew my life was different.

This was more than science, or anatomy, or academia.

This was about life.

And death. And giving.

And selflessness.

You believed in something greater. And for that – I truly thank you

P.S. I no longer fear meeting you. In fact… I kind of look forward to it!

Katie Clifford – 3rd Year Medical Student Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Meditation: A Visit to the Medical School Mortuary

This corpse stretched out upon a metal trolley

once housed a universe of possibility

and promise in its now empty shell:

Love dwelt here alongside hate and fear:

Kindness resided here and meanness too:

Tender couplings once nourished this form

which in turn offered warmth and loving words

to some cherished lover and was utterly

nonplussed by the mystery that stretched out

in vast solitudes of another’s heart.

All virtues and vices and qualities

of men and women domiciled here

in this still clay residue of what once

sat next to us on the tube train or bus,

laughed and cried at the same intransigent 

joys, aches and sorrows that are our lot:

Now all possibility is silent,

dumb to the future and laid here stretched

on this cold metal trolley a still corpse.

And yet life still has business with the dead.

This corpse yields to the wielded knife,

the scalpel and saw and prying fingers

that explore organs and trace nerve endings,

and forfeits viscera to close inspection,

to teach and illumine all mysteries

of the body: this unspeaking teacher,

imparts its wisdom freely without charge:

This nameless and silent master,

now the honoured guru instructs simply

by its docility on the cold metal trolley.

Christopher Mcdermott, University of Sussex

Memorial Service for Body Donors