Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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I take a deep breath
to calm myself
before walking into the storm
of operating room shadowing.

As I slipped my mask over
my nose,
I stepped into theater 2.
I looked at the patient
and was startled to see
that the operation was on his face.

Because of cancer,
they were surgically removing
his nose.

Breathing, the physician explained,
could still happen through his nostrils.
But he wouldn’t have
his nose

I took another deep breath.

What is a face
without a nose
to hold glasses on its bridge?

What is a face
without a nose
to keep a surgical mask in place?

What is a face
without a nose
to fill the space between the eyes and the mouth?

I breathed in.

It was his nose.
It was his face.
It was his identity.

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.


Archana Bharadwaj Archana Bharadwaj (6 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Central Michigan University College of Medicine

Archana Bharadwaj is a second-year medical student at Central Michigan University College of Medicine in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. In 2013, she earned her Bachelor's of Science with a major in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience and a minor in Gender and Health from the University of Michigan. She went on to earn her Master's in Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Education with a specialization in Health Communications from the University of Michigan in 2016. Outside of school, she is an avid foodie with a penchant for traveling. After graduating medical school, Archana would like to a pursue a career in Anesthesiology.

In Color

In this column, I will explore the unique challenges of training as a provider of color and offer solutions for improving diversity and inclusion in medicine. Through conversations with colleagues of color, including premedical students, medical students in training, and residents, I hope to create a community where we can learn from one another, cultivate allyhood, and find support in our professional journeys.