Is this man or is this flesh
That implores my expertise?
Is it meat or is it human
When we meet, which do I see?
In the lab, I dissect a body.
In the clinic, he stands before me whole.
I’ve learned every minutiae of its anatomy,
But have I peered within her soul?
What is a face but bone and cartilage?
What is a mind but sockets and wires?
When cutting knees and plastering arms,
Am I saving lives or changing tires?
I see the parts but miss the person.
I note the rot and ignore the fresh.
Yet then at night I lay and wonder,
Am I man or am I flesh?
Poetry Thursdays is a weekly newsletter that highlights poems by medical students and physicians. This initiative is led by Slavena Salve Nissan at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. If you are interested in contributing, please contact Slavena.