Featured, Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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Dying Is Not

Dying is not
as romantic as I once thought.
I think you always knew this.

It is winter now, and death’s icy hold
has made my town silent. Each day
my hair turns a lighter shade of ash.

I have concluded that life should not be
linear — that I should struggle down the stairs,
legs shaking, to tumble into young summer days

and the front seat of your car. I would rest
bare feet on the dashboard and believe troubles
to be no more complex than a flat can of sprite
or a mix-tape that always gets stuck on
“Yellow Submarine.” Dear friend,

are you dead yet? I remember you in youth —
the line of your jaw, that toothy smile, the way
you swore to me that life didn’t rhyme, and I

promised I would make sonnets out of the way
you wore your hat, a ghazal out of the way
you walked away, hat askew. And if you are dead,

are you still beautiful? Time has turned my skin
to paper, but you would waste away in elegance;
your bones would glisten, and you’d laugh at me

pulling art out of your absence, a giggle rattling
through your empty chest: proof of sweetness yet.

Image credit: Snow (CC BY-NC 2.0) by eltpics

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.

Anneka Johnston Anneka Johnston (2 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine

Anneka Johnston grew up in West Michigan and attended Kenyon College, majoring in English with a special certification in creative writing, and minoring in chemistry. Continuing her lifelong commitment to avoid sunny weather, Anneka moved to Chicago following graduation, and worked in a Suboxone clinic at the height of Chicago’s opioid epidemic. She began searching for the common ground between medicine and the humanities, and became passionate about giving voice to patient experiences through narrative art. She received second place in the 2022 DeBakey Poetry Contest and third place in the 2022 William Carlos William Poetry Competition. She is currently a fourth-year student at Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine and plans to pursue a career in psychiatry.