Off the Shelf
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you almost died today.
you almost brought yourself back to life

knowing another heart, too,
makes warmth between your breasts.

given the choice to react or fibrose,
become a healer.

on the next plum dusk, touch the side
of your neck. it will grow and fill the room

with books that break open themselves
cradles under dim light. and when

some part of your chest
learns too many ways to describe pain

let it wander into a flower shop
tell it to find the sweetest bouquet.

Author’s note: “palpate” was written after a session of The Healer’s Art on grief. It is a poem reminiscent of a few things, including Orlando, and of taking on the role of patient while in medical training.

Elaine Hsiang (1 Posts)

Medical Student Editor

University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine

Elaine is a fourth-year medical student at the University of California, San Francisco with interests in LGBTQ health and rad medicine for the underserved. She graduated from Brown University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in health and human biology. In a dream life she would probably spend her days watching corgi videos, learning languages, and putting together an anthology of poems titled, "where have you been?"