I Remember…

autopsy image

“I remember the human heart is smaller and heavier than I had imagined.”

Image taken from ‘Images of Medicine: A Definitive Volume of More than 4,800 Copyright-Free Engravings’

Words copyright 2013 Eliot North

These words are taken from a larger poem I wrote for the creative writing Post Grad Certificate I’m doing at Newcastle University. The Poem is called ‘First Year Anatomy’ after Paul Farley. 

The image is from one of my favourite books (details above) It seemed to capture the line from the poem so well.

The whole poem is posted below.

First Year Anatomy

after Paul Farley

I remember curling up in the back of the Mitsubishi Colt on the drive from Warwick to Nottingham and seeing all the other cars on the motorway stuffed with duvets and pillows, just like ours.

I remember willing my parents to leave.

I remember meeting my bathroom buddy Rachel, and thinking she was the tallest girl I’d ever seen.

I remember the walk across campus in my new orange mac.

I remember Rachel telling me all the places she had lived: Fort McMurray, New Plymouth, Bakersfield, Calgary, Lagos, Geneva and then London, before she came to Nottingham like me.

I remember the starched collar of my white lab coat.

I remember the body-bag being unzipped and seeing Ethel inside.

I remember Simon upstairs playing ‘Everybody Hurts’ on repeat after his girlfriend dumped him. I remember how we all took the piss.

I remember Pre-Raphaelite Jane’s hair.

I remember Beany Sizzle.

I remember my head fitting perfectly on Rachel’s shoulder and her head on mine, as we dozed through Dr Greenhaff’s renal physiology lectures.

I remember James’s indecently short, brown velour dressing gown.

I remember the whine of the circular saw and the smell of bone dust.

I remember fat looks a lot like sweetcorn.

I remember Dad sending me an emergency food parcel and that it contained a selection of fine cheese and six quail’s eggs.

I remember the crack of Ethel’s ribcage as we opened her thoracic cavity.

I remember Andy Sparrow used two sheets, a hula hoop and a length of rope to show us how, by a series of folds, we are all turned from something that resembles a fish into a foetus.

I remember Paul’s hugs.

I remember You’ll never live like common people.

I remember the human heart is smaller and heavier than I had imagined.

I remember South African Dave’s roving eye as he demonstrated to Ranjana and the rest of our group the anatomy of the chest.

I remember Ethel’s lungs looked impossibly large in her tiny body.

I remember the groan when Llinos Jones put her hand up at the end of every lecture.

I remember the hush of the exam hall.

I remember Rachel pricking all my fingers in an attempt to squeeze out just one droplet of blood.

I remember the Campus Fourteen and the Beepus Twenty Eight.

I remember it took two people to carry Ethel’s leg and hind quarter to the sink to wash the shit from her large intestine.

I remember Jimmy’s knees were always caked in mud.

I remember the river Trent at dawn; the drop and whoosh of oars as we rowed for miles, our hands numbed with cold.

I remember blisters hardening to calluses on my palms.

I remember only being interested in Ryan Smith when I learned he had been UK junior ballroom champion and watched, transfixed, as he danced the cha-cha-cha.

I remember The Simpsons and Dominoes Pizza every night.

I remember Hugh’s hair used to fall in front of his eyes.

I remember the OSCEs and Vivas.

I remember going to the Pathology Library to stare at the alien-like creatures inside jars of Formaldehyde, and realising it was a miracle any of us are born at all.

I remember Rachel downing pints faster than the lads.

I remember the electric curtain as it moved jerkily around Ethel’s coffin, and that when I looked behind me we were the only ones there to see her off.

I remember the fear of not finding a house.

I remember signing for the seven bed place on Hope Drive at Mrs Del Buono’s restaurant up near Canning Circus.

I remember one down, four to go.


2 thoughts on “I Remember…

  1. I remember a human skull was way heavier than I’d imagined and rather yellow

    • Hi Rosie,
      I know what you mean, skulls are really heavy (and real human ones definitely on the yellow side) I’ve just written a first draft of a flash fiction piece called ‘Brain Teaser’ about a human skull, some chickpeas and two medical students. I should be able to post that soon. Thanks for the comment! Eliot

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