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Inca Mummy suspected to have inspired
Edvard Munch’s The Scream.
photo Museum of Natural History, Florence
click here to visit

t h e   r e s u r r e c t i o n i s t

d a r r e n   a n d e r s o n

I deal in resurrection
a public service if you will
and death’s a business like anything else.
There are those who need a constant supply:
surgeons need cadavers to dissect,
professors to teach the dynamics of rigor mortis
scientists to reanimate muscles with electricity
Phrenologists to study the marks,
quiddities on the skull and soul,
it is simply a case of fulfilling demand.
Call us not graverobbers or bodysnatchers
we are craftsmen,
draftsmen,
resurrectionists
we have cultivated our commerce to a fine art,
raided the tombs of Egyptian gods,
carried away the body of Christ,
waltzed with the skeleton of Johann Strauss,
been confidants of the Prince of Denmark.

There’s many’s a penny
in our brisk moonlight trade
a full body is,
of course,
worth its weight in gold
but offcuts;
a well-muscled arm with tattoo,
a women’s scalp with hair attached,
smalls lying peacefully in cots
are especially lucrative.
Siamese twins
to be pickled
pride of place in a biologist’s cabinet
are a holy grail
spoke of in awe filled whispers.

There are more of us out there
than you think
you may have seen
a stranger at a funeral,
a figure at a wake
whom nobody recognizes.
We have our ways and means.
Greasing the palm of the gallowsman,
buying "souvenirs" from soldiers on home leave,
sweeping barroom floors for teeth.
In the apprentice days times were tough
I regret to say
I was down to three incisors
and a shinbone a day
and took to hawking dog bones instead.
As the years went by
the money rolled in
along with the competition
it was a question of demand
outweighing supply.
You learn to turn a blind eye
to differentiations
of those who are sleeping,
those knocked unconscious,
etherized patients on operating tables
and the dead.
The lines get blurred.
Alas, your Honour,
I know it well
all talk of life and death
matter not
it’s all pound notes to me.

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