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three machines

i come from:

not white coats and stethoscopes,


“I saw three red-tailed hawks the night before my wife died

I took that as a good sign.

They asked me if I wanted her to do the operation


empty churches

with art-deco stained glass,

no preacher, no pastor, no doctor,


I couldn’t go to sleep that night until 2 a.m. 

but I thought we had two doctors telling me to go ahead 

and they must know what to do”


where people disappear

diagnosis never known

the only consult: prayer.


“She passed on twice during the operation”


i sit a stranger,

in lecture halls,

in patients’ rooms,

in exams,


“Her heart stopped.

The third time they brought her back to life 

she was kept alive by three machines. 

They asked me what I wanted to do and 

I said her living will didn’t want her to be 

kept alive on three machines.”


so one day

i can translate to my patients

what my family missed.


“She’s the first one in our family that wants to be a doctor 

and I’m proud of her.”


Image credit: Montevideo Art Deco (CC BY-SA 2.0) by colros

Poetry Thursdays is an initiative that highlights poems by medical students. If you are interested in contributing or would like to learn more, please contact our editors.

Kirsten Myers (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

University of Washington School of Medicine

Kirsten is a second year medical student at University of Washington in Spokane, Washington class of 2023. In 2015, she graduated from University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in Health and Societies. She enjoys trail running, watching bad Netflix reality TV shows, and reading in her free time. After graduating medical school, Kirsten would like to pursue a career in rural family medicine.