Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
Leave a comment

Am I Essential?

Am I essential?
A med student waiting for change,
inundated with facts and figures.
Am I just in the way?
Missed the boat,
I’m a few years too late —
to sit and wonder what will happen.
Is that my fate?

I hear tales of the frontlines — a soldier’s march,
recycled bullets for an unknown foe.
The cause is dire, the threat is large.
When will be my turn to go?
And if I go, and my breath leaves me,
will I be a hero for daytime TV?


Am I essential?
Cleaning aisles and carts,
stocking meats on shelves —
the comfort my work imparts
to a beast that hordes
and squirrels away.
Fortifying for an endless winter.
Will I be okay?

It touches everything once, thrice over.
I sanitize all that I see.
An itch in my throat, will I be covered?
I can’t afford a trip to the ED.
I gasp for air; a sea of masks and shifting eyes.
Am I essential? Is it just a lie?


I am essential.
The first and last defense.
Ordained with gown and mask,
I move with great intent.
Her sats are dropping! We need to act!
I fumble for my blade.
I drop a tube, a two-way tract,
so her lungs may oxygenate.

But as I think about what happened,
evil horrors fill my brain.
I wore the same mask yesterday.
Tomorrow, the same again.
Was I exposed? Was it worth it? Will this virus end my life?
Am I even essential, or just a sacrifice?

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

Matthew Casarico Matthew Casarico (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Florida State University College of Medicine

Matthew is a fourth year medical student at Florida State University College of Medicine in Daytona Beach, Florida class of 2021. In 2016, he graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry. He enjoys surfing, playing guitar, and learning Spanish in his free time. After graduating medical school, Matthew would like to pursue a career in Emergency Medicine.