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When You Come to Me: Baltimore 2015

If you came to me then,
I might have smeared salve
into the keloid stripes
ripped into your back
by the man who owned you:
a man with the same name
as the officer who arrested you today.

If you came to me then,
I might have stripped you
on a metal table:
your chilled, stiff limbs
still crusted with dirt
from the spot where my classmates dug you up;
and I’d slice and label
your liver,
your intestines,
your brain,
then burn your black remains.

If you came to me then,
I might have waited for you to leave,
then scraped your mama’s cervix
and grown and sold her cells
without a word;
‘cause you were poor and black
and I was white and white-coated.

If you came to me then,
I might have lied and said,
“Your daughter’s epileptic”
because I didn’t want to tell you
that my research poisoned her
to clinch the slumlords’ grip on East Baltimore.

If you came to me then,
I might have offered you my sorrows
because your friend was numb
long before I met him;
his spinal cord bisected
by the men meant to serve and protect him.

You come to me now
broken, burned,
branded by shattered glass and flaming cars
wrists wrenched behind your back
like a criminal,
or a slave.

At your blisters, I falter:
my textbooks only printed skin in shades of white and pink.
The medicine I learned was not meant for you:
my treatment fits like hand-me-down clothing.

I can’t order justice like opiates or antibiotics;
my medicine is tissue-deep.
But you come to me now and know
I’ll set my hand on your skin,
my ear at your lips,
and I’ll believe.

Jes Minor Jes Minor (5 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Yale School of Medicine

Bridging the divide between the biomedical and social sciences, Jes enjoys her unique position as an anthropology MD-PhD student to advocate for social justice at Yale. Apart from academics and service, Jes relishes the chance to overfeed guests in the style of her Italian-American upbringing and to dance until she bursts into laughter. Follow her on Twitter @jes_minor