Featured, Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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A stranger confides

Waiting in the snow for the 43,

Mind focused on the cold.

The bitter wind, the bus kneeling

Propelled me into the warm blue and yellow interior

But the driver told me

Wait, I let the elderly off first

And I waited,

Thanked her for her thoughtfulness,

Shared the weather sentiment,

And sat.


My husband won’t turn up the heat at home, she said.

But I’ve always been cold.


I caught her eye in the rearview mirror as she

Tracked true down Tremont.

Her story burning bright in her gaze


They told me I was eating the wrong things,

That it made the iron in my blood too low,

And it was my fault.


She continued on, wove in her 8 child births,

Her 7 surviving children,

Her first baby, her sunshine,

Who came out along with a fibrous growth

That had been bleeding her dry and

Draining her from the inside,

The cause of her coldness.

I told them it wasn’t my fault.


Her baby was injured by the blade,

As was she,

And no one told her

I’m sorry

For the misplaced blame,

For the misplaced knife.


Are you still cold?

My baby, my sunshine is 17

He brightens my worst days

And I’m no longer cold at home,

Even when my husband won’t turn up the heat.

But I’m still waiting for my apology.


MTA New York City Transit Prepares for W” (CC BY 2.0) by MTAPhotos

Poetry Thursdays is an initiative that highlights poems by medical students. If you are interested in contributing or would like to learn more, please contact our editors.

Zoë Gilbard Zoë Gilbard (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Tufts University School of Medicine

Zoë is an MD/MPH student at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts class of 2025. In 2018, she graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts in public health and the history of medicine. She enjoys baking bread, doing yoga, and reading novels in her free time. After graduating medical school, Zoë would like to pursue a career in internal medicine, working at the intersection of medicine and public health to address the impact of the climate crisis on health.