Off the Shelf, Writers-in-Training
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Anatomical Variation

Utmost respect to the admirable ones,
who gave us their bodies to cut,
peace to their souls as I dissect their soles,
their heart, their lungs and their gut.

I wish I could learn from this body of bones,
and muscles and nerves and veins,
but to me it’s a sea of fixed tissue and fat,
and worries and stresses and pains.

All the muscles are stuck and have fused into one,
all the veins are embedded in fat,
less time is spent learning and more in worrying
if it is this I should cut, or it is that.

I never know if I’m deep enough,
and I’ll sever a nerve, maybe six,
not that it mattered, I couldn’t tell them apart,
I’m just hoping some material sticks.

Nothing ever looks the way that it “should,”
and guessing never helped me learn,
so I stand on the side with my scalpel in hand,
hoping they don’t give me my turn.

‘Cause it always looks different and never works out,
never matches the pro-section…
and the professor just shrugs, unhelpful as ever,
“Anatomical variation.”

Damien Zreibe Damien Zreibe (8 Posts)


University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine

Hello! My name is Damien and I'm a student at the University of South Florida's College of Medicine. I was born and raised on the island of Antigua, and have been writing poetry and fiction for years. I hope you enjoy my work!