Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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Just a Few Minutes Before 6 A.M. Rounds


5:37 a.m. in hospital scrubs;
Just a few minutes with each patient.
The thought echoes
Like my footsteps in the stairwell:
Just a few minutes before 6 a.m. rounds.

Good morning sir, I hear myself say.
I’m just going to take a listen.
I reach to my neck,
My memory skips back to the lounge
To my stethoscope hanging by the door.

Well it all sounded fine yesterday.
Shortness of breath? No.
Chest pain? Palpitations? No.
Well it all sounded fine yesterday.
Just a few minutes before 6:00 am rounds.

Physical exam, unchanged, I hear myself say.
And then these fingers type out a note:
RRR, CTA b/l.
And just like that
A body copied forward.

Impostor, repeats
Louder than the constant saline BEEP
Feeling like a burr hole inside my own head.
And my memory skips to that eager student
A naïvety which never questioned integrity.

And just like that saline drip,
The noise fades
Blurred into a dizzy oblivion:
Walking steps I never remembered
Past lives I’ll sooner forget.


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.


Amira Athanasios (2 Posts)

Contributing Writer

George Washington University School of Medicine


Amira Athanasios is fourth year medical student at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. As a graduate of Scripps College in 2015, she is passionate about the intersections of health, culture, religion, and humanities. After medical school, she hopes to pursue a career in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.