The Autopsy Room

Carver, Raymond

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry
Secondary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Dec-01-1993


In the first stanza the speaker describes his experiences cleaning the autopsy room at night. Sometimes they left corpses or parts of corpses out on the table. Once they even left a woman's leg (he'd "seen them before").

At home, though, the speaker was so distracted by these experiences that he'd sit with his eyes closed, or stare at the ceiling, rather than interacting with his wife. He was distant and cold; she tried to warm him. His "fingers strayed to her leg. / Which was warm and shapely . . . . " But what about the woman's leg on the autopsy table? He ends with the paradox, "Nothing / was happening. Everything was happening." Life and death, beginning and end, warmth and coldness, closeness and distance, feeling and the denial of feeling: all are part of the whole.

Primary Source



Random House

Place Published

New York



Secondary Source