by Martin Preib (The Virginia Quarterly Review 81. 3 (Summer 2005): 178-XII)
The dead seek the lowest places in Chicago.
We find them in basements, laundry rooms, on floors next to couches, sticking out of parked cars or shrubs next to the sidewalk. It is more than gravity that pulls them down, for in every dead body there is something more willfully downward, the lowest possible place: the head sunken into the chest and turned toward the floor. No matter what cause we cite on the Hospitalization case Report, an accident, a murder, or “natural causes,” all bodies express this downwardness when we remove them from this cavern they have created merely by their presence, by their being.
Some cops, like me, circle the periphery of the room before we approach the body, making small talk with the cops guarding the scene, slowly putting on our gloves, unnecessarily double-checking that our path is clear, anything to avoid the inevitable bending over and touching it, shaking it from this descendance it insists upon, and bringing it back into our living world where it must be pronounced, photographed, identified, prodded, stripped, and categorized.
Their resistance is powerful. The dead roll back to their original positions, stuck to the ground or the sheets on their beds, their bodies unwilling to bend or sway into the bag, always pulling themselves back down, a force described only by the term “dead weight.”