Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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Is This Man or Is This Flesh?

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 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.


Adam Barsouk Adam Barsouk (8 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Adam Barsouk is currently a medical student at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Jefferson University. He studied pre-medicine, health policy and anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. As a son of Soviet Jewish escapees, Adam values the opportunity and freedom that America has provided his family, and as a current cancer researcher at the University of Pittsburgh and an aspiring physician, hopes to share this commitment by liberating the infirm from the chains of chronic disease and suffering. Adam speaks 6 languages, has visited over 30 countries, and enjoys recounting his experiences while also learning anything he can from the people and places around him.