Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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Two Beds


Motionless, a man awakes from his stupor of heart. Relief from sharpness, the pooling and swelling. Three cardiac storms passed over like rain, each caught before a flooding. His heavy frame regrets the drive-up window, hours spent on the couch at home. He breathes in hospital air like a cigarette, detestable and familiar.

Lying still, another man can only clutch his chest. A dull headache distracts from the pain of breathing, the dryness of his throat. Lips like a cracked painting. Bedside pictures remind him of family picnics, hikes, the marathon he finished at forty-five. To be outside again. Cancer was meant for smokers, for factory workers, smog breathers. Two beds, one next to the other.


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.


Steven Duncan (5 Posts)

Medical Student Editor and Contributing Writer

UT Southwestern Medical School


Steven is a third-year medical student at UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas class of 2022. In 2018, he graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and Russian. He enjoys eating curry, writing poetry, and hiking in his free time. In the future, he would like to pursue a career in primary care and global health.