Off the Shelf
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I believed him to be
a collection of gears and levers
lubricated by blood and sweat
nothing much left
but an imprint.
Not by the man on the land
but rather the land on the man.
You could see it in the red dirt underneath his fingernails
or at what I imagined would have been there before.

You see, you can tell a lot about a man
by his hands
the condition of which varies
from the bourgeois
to the blue collar backbone of Montana.
Perhaps a collection of ridges
an fine crosshatch of white lines
hinting at a life spent working the raw earth
or the soft and intricate hands of a pianist
aspiring to be graceful
and deceiving in their fragility.

I glance at my own hands
working to discern the idiosyncrasies of the human body
and I wonder at their own insubstantiality.
Are these the hands of a physician?
Will they be firm and purposeful in bearing
albeit gentle in practice?
When you physically hold a man’s heart in your hands
your same hands so equally brief in this world
it is nearly impossible to overlook
the connection that you feel
with someone you could no longer possibly call

Bridgett McNulty Bridgett McNulty (2 Posts)

Contributing Writer

University of Washington School of Medicine

Bridgett McNulty is a third year medical student at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She's been writing poetry and short works of fiction since her angsty teenage years. She enjoys karaoke, horror movies and doing stand up comedy on random weekday nights.