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What do they do first?

They examine the body
to prove that death
was natural.

And if not?

Further tests.

And if natural?

No one is ever
completely sure.

But what of the family?

They know, but are
not talking.

And after all are satisfied?

All are never satisfied.

And what of those who are not?

They are watched closely
to see if their deaths
are natural.

And if not?

Further tests.



John Stone (1936-2008) was a poet, essayist, lecturer, and cardiologist. He held various posts at the Emory University School of Medicine, and taught the first course on literature and medicine at the university. His last poetry collection was Music from Apartment 8: New and Selected Poems (LSU Press, 2004).