Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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Your Body


Your body lay on the table, wrapped in shrouds
while robed students gathered around,
Your body lay on the table, skin leathery and strong,
I imagined what stories it bore, what paths it traveled along.

I placed my hand on your forehead and pondered what lay beneath,
the trials, tribulations, the labor the world bequeathed,
How your muscles tensed and blood flowed like converging streams —
How your eyes may have gazed at the night sky, dreaming of dreams.

Your body was 97 years old, but seemed younger
in pale comparison of the histories, and places, and people you knew.
Grief found me in realization; I could not sit down for coffee with you,
and hear what it was like in 1942.

Yet, you gifted your body to us; and the story of evolution did it tell.
Your muscles wove around your limbs that carried dairy to sell.
Your lungs marked by city air; your heart prompted by technology older than me.
You must have known that you embodied the wisdom of a galaxy.

The privilege of your gift: to learn what I could not see.
Through your generosity, the wonder of our bodies is now known to me.


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.


Amal Cheema Amal Cheema (2 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Geisel School of Medicine


Amal is a writer and first-year medical student at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, class of 2023. She graduated from Wellesley College with a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry and political science in 2017. Prior to medical school, she pursued a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and a post-baccalaureate in biomedical ethics. Outside of class, you can usually find her writing, reading, baking, or adventuring in the outdoors.