Quin: Necrorium Christmas

None of the Norway rats were
getting injected with nickel sulfate
or inhaling forced cigarette smoke 
because it was the lab director’s
birthday (he joked) but really
because it was Christ’s (traditionally).

The rabbits in the room next door
weren’t wearing their contact lenses
and the dogs in cages two floors up
weren’t receiving trial heart parts
because the researchers responsible 
were home for their holiday meals.

Quin and I sat in the rat lab
(third floor medschool hospital wing
once burned out and since turned over
to research) blabbing profundities and
munching a wedge of blue cheese
and guzzling a bottle of bourbon.

Maybe too boozy we walked downstairs
four flights (one too many — by mistake
if anything does happen by mistake)
to face a grey furnace and a white door
labeled “NECRORIUM” and “Do Not Enter”
but since it was left unlocked we did.

Faint light from a late foggy afternoon
filtered through the basement window
barely making it across the chilly room
to three gurneys standing head-to-toe
on each of which some dampened burlap
covered a corpse or rather a cadaver.

The only one we looked at looked Chinese
and felt surprisingly solid as well as frigid
unstaring and apparently uncaring (unlike us)
of the black waiting waist-high wooden boxes
coffining cleanly severed arms and legs
or that shelf of human heads in bell jars.

Woozy we walked the flight upstairs
out into the cool refreshing evening mist
making our way to the little cafe nearby
still exhaling essence of formaldehyde
(did we close the necrorium door?)
hungry for some holiday hamburgers.