Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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Last and First Days

Was it a fall? Did I miss the last step? These things I cannot recall
Hidden from sight, the blood crept from one lone vessel and began to compress

Nice to meet you, one medical student said, as he unzipped my sheath
His hand reached forward, tentative at first, as he thought, this is my future

Daughter, please listen, don’t spread me in the ocean, place me in the ground or in a wall
I have more to give: Of death and of knowledge upon them, I shall impress

The medical students peeled away skin and muscle to expose what lay beneath
Three hours passed and my body, once whole, now the work of a butcher

My children would scramble into my arms and hang from my neck
When I’m old, frail and have a crooked back you’ll be to blame, I said

One finger running the ribbed trail down my back and another on the textbook
The medical student turned to the others and said, severe lordosis, I suspect

When the doctor entered the room, my family asked, please silence these alarms
I was no longer the one they remembered, yet they gathered close around my bed

She has no muscle mass, one student lamented, I just don’t know where to look
Eager to explore, another said that is no matter we must continue to dissect

Her life gave us over 80 years worth of happiness and love to emulate
The words spoken as my family grieved and away they allowed me to drift

The medical student told his family, if I am to go early, my desire is to donate
I now understand that life is circular, I have received and in turn I wish to gift

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.

Sal Aiello Sal Aiello (2 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

Sal is an M1 at Chicago Medical School where he also serves as the Benevolent Overload of The Medical Humanities Club. In his spare time he works in the Resuscitation Institute at the University. A soccer coach once told Sal, "you are pretty agile for your body type." The description was overwhelmingly accurate.