Showing 71 - 72 of 72 annotations in the genre "Poetry"
Coulehan speaks to the cadaver (Ernest), beginning with factual observations about his damp face and beard. He then becomes confessional--in fact, by directly paraphrasing the traditional Catholic formula of confession ("Bless me, father, for I have sinned . . . "). He implores the cadaver to reveal himself, to yield the truth of his condition.
In the last stanza, the tears of conjunctival irritation (formaldehyde) become tears of sorrow "for all offenses / to the heart . . . " and "for the violence / of abomination . . . . " Cutting up a corpse is an "abomination," but one that must be accepted and transcended in order to gain the power to heal. In the end, the tears become life-giving rain on the canyon wall.
Summary:This poem is narrated by a physician (probably a young resident) trying to keep Alabama alive ("my stern professor . . . frowns at my attempts to stoke the boiler in her chest.") But Alabama wants to die and whispers to him "Let me go." The physician-narrator, however, is completely committed to keeping her alive, slapping her and saying, "Dammit, Live!"