It Ricochets Off the Heart

Each morning, we coalesce in a sleepy fog, winding our way up two stories of spiraling stairs. At the entrance to the anatomy lab, refrigerated air heaves the sweet, pungent tang of formalin into somnific faces. The first blow lands hard, without fail. Fluorescent lights sting bleary eyes. Acrid fumes burn their way up nasal passages, down tracheas, through bronchi, and deep into the minute alveolar sacs of each pulmonary lobe, radiating an analgesic chill in their wake.

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There May Be No Answer

Farm dog

For you will be invincible
          and vulnerable in the same breath
          which is the breath of your patients
For their breath is our breathing and our reason
For the patient will know the answer
          and you will ask him
          ask her
For the family may know the answer
For there may be no answer
-John Stone, “Gaudeamus Igitur: A Valediction”

 
I first learned to interact with poetry as a college freshman. Because I tested out of calculus, I was automatically signed up for a literature class focusing on medicine. I have always loved to read, but I was terrified of a 300-level English class. I had absolutely no useful academic background in the subject, but I did my best to keep calm. The course, along with subsequent courses in the medical humanities, turned out to be one of the highlights of my undergraduate career. With the help of engaging content and a dedicated professor, I learned to read, write and think. Most importantly, I learned that the act of seeking understanding is as important as acquiring definitive knowledge. Read more