Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
Leave a comment


It’s past midnight when I leave
Hearing the heavy doors ca-thunk behind me
As locks engage.

I automatically glance side to side
Watching for movement
Seeing if I’m alone.
Look up to cross check
The roof’s silver corners
That glint in the half moon.
I don’t know what I expect to see
If anything.

And what if I do?

I haven’t thought that far ahead.
Imagining a grotesque monster’s silhouette
Framed against the dark.
Or more worryingly, a human’s
Of course, I see nothing.

But that doesn’t begin to explain why I always look up
Day, night, dusk, dawn, cityscape
Or not.

Is it when I find my neck aching?
A kyphotic curve
From that familiar huddle over books and screens.
Or, is it that itch?
When I’m too far gone from my camera
Alert for that perfect shot?

Or, perhaps it’s from thinking
It’s too high.
It’s too hard.
It’s too insurmountable, so why even look?

Or maybe it’s the decades of subtle and not so subtle remarks
Of “This is not for you”
Or “You do not look like those up there.”

I’ve learned that light alone
Does not illuminate.
So, one way or another
I keep craning my neck
Looking up.

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.



Sarah Bassiouni Sarah Bassiouni (2 Posts)

Contributing Writer

UC San Diego School of Medicine

Sarah S. Bassiouni is a first-year medical student at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. In 2011 she graduated cum laude from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry. Following this, she earned a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan in 2016, and she has been a nationally certified phlebotomist (PBT(ASCP)) since 2014. Sarah is passionate about eliminating health disparities both locally and globally. In her increasingly rare free time, she can be found writing in local coffee shops or hiking with loved ones. Sarah plans to pursue a career in academic medicine and global surgery.