This poem is part of the Poems for doctors project. You can find out more about the project here.

Season 4 : poem 4

Dr Ourania Varsou, Lecturer in Anatomy at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow, reads The First Death by Andrea Wershof Schwartz.

The First Death

Andrea Wershof Schwartz

I was surprised
how quickly
his body turned cold
so soon after
the terrifying task
listening to the emptiness with my stethoscope to pronounce

the first death

how wide his eyes under my penlight
how heavy his wrist, how still

how easily tears flowed when the routine of death
the autopsy request
the certificate for the morgue
was punctuated by
a sigh
for the hole left in his family

how much his kids look like him

Rights: by permission of the author

A moderated Facebook group hosts discussion for medics and others who would like to follow up on ideas arising from ‘Poems for Doctors’.

To ask to join, or add to the discussion if you are already a member, please visit


Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox: