Coroner Story: Alpha and Omega

                        Alpha and Omega

I stood between the woman’s legs.

She bore her strength down against

The rotund dome of the gravid belly.

The nurse looked in from the hall door.

“Can you take a call?  ER on line four.”

She will be a while yet.

The baby is fine.  Her strength is good.

I’m not needed here, as yet, or ever…

I nodded to the nurse and stepped outside,

in gown and bloody gloves, “Why me, why now?”

I ask the emergency room doctor on the phone.

“You’re still the coroner, aren’t you?  Well then, you need to know, we had a 20-year-old lady come in DOA.  Head-on car wreck, out east of town, we never got a rhythm.  No pulse.  We tried for 30 minutes.  Oh, by the way, she looks pregnant.  We don’t know who she is yet.  We don’t have a name.  We’ll let you know when we do.”

How pregnant?

Six or seven months may be.  No heart tones.

I step back into this room,

To this woman I don’t know either,

they grabbed me in the hall to deliver her child.

Her doctor was unreachable.

Her smile in the sweaty mist of her effort

Gleams from the ruddy face. 

Her welcoming generous heart is open to me, a stranger

Between her spread legs.

I have wondered if all women love everything they see at this moment,

a programmed imprintable template of acceptance.

Her work is still downward, but she does it with efficiency.

The babe moves down toward the bulging moist spreading lips.

They part as the wrinkled dome of occiput passes up

and through

and out

and onto her welcoming belly and into her grasping arms

and sobs of joy.

The baby cries, taking its breath of life.

Its first effort in this world of pain and loss and love

and a mother’s welcoming breast.

When I went down to the ER

Her body was sheeted,

The gravid belly a white dome.

Injuries consistent with motor vehicle trauma.

Two dead.

I filled out the birth certificate the next day,

The usual, with a name I didn’t know,

Though we’d shared

The moment.

The death certificates were there for me too.

Both mom and babe

Names I did not know.

The boxes now checked.


Doing the job.

The Jobs.

Cause of Death: Trauma from Motor Vehicle Accident

Manner of Death: Accident

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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