The Gebelein Man, by Clare Marsh

The Gebelein Man, by Kent and Sussex Poetry Society member Clare Marsh, a writer of children’s fiction, short stories, flash fiction and poetry, was selected in our 2020 Folio competition for publication in Folio #74. Clare graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Kent in 2018. She can be found on Facebook at claremarshwriter1

The Gebelein Man

In the Early Egypt Gallery,
preserved in sand, a young man
from south of Thebes, lies crouched
face-down in a glass cube. Surrounded
by prying eyes, he covers his face
with clasped hand in a staged burial pit - 
defenceless as any caged animal.
I want to cover his naked body
with a blanket of softest wool

Displayed over a hundred years,
dubbed Ginger for his poignant tufts
of red curls, clustered on his leathered scalp.
His given name belatedly dropped due to 
ethical concerns about the treatment of the dead.

The British Museum invites me instead 
to take part in a touch screen
interactive learning experience
to explore inside Gebelein Man
on a virtual autopsy table. Allows me,
and a crowd of giggling school children,
to slice through CT scan layers - skin, muscle, organs -
to reveal his skeleton and discover the fatal
stab wound in his back.

After the Human Tissue Act 2004, the British Museum 
developed a policy for the respectful handling and 
display of human remains. 

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