Sara Nelson-Owens, MSIII
Let me tell you why I love him:
“‘Cause he is the truth, and he is so real, and I love the way that he makes me feel”
Not a fairy tale reality, but pretty brown eyes of affection and integrity, an integrity so true that I will
follow him, down the deepest, darkest and the most uncharted pathways of love, life and lust
In him the design of our relationship, as he brick and mortar lays a foundation that won’t be swayed by
earthquakes, hurricanes or waves nor bosses, friends or kids
I believe in him
See in order for him to be the The Truth, there had to be trust and with trust comes believing
“The truth it needs no proof, either it is or it isn’t”
And it is
Because faith told me and she ain’t the average girlfriend throwing salt ‘cause his life is bland, you see
faith believes in things longed for and unseen
so I carry his dreams!
And not like a burden to be laid at the alter, but an ethereal cloud
resting upon my shoulders
I vacation in the cortex his mind just be embraced by him
I reside in the corpuscles of his feet just to be carried with him
I eat, sleep and live in this man’s organs just to be surrounded by him
“You know the truth by the way it feels”
A feeling that paints my soul with joy, that translates into a smile, a smile so commonly formed from ear
to ear just to let the world see my hearts truest reflection of him
“And if I am a reflection of him, then I must be fly, because his light it shines so bright, I would lie”
I wonder if he knows that he is…
Erin Smith, MSIII
You are the BEST?
She said with a smirk
As she prepared herself to hit the dirt
The best of you is of others’ invention!
It spewed from her lips
Like unfiltered venom
You think you’re so smart
But your brain is a weakling
With knowledge borrowed from the pages of Wiki
A great taste in music
Of which you are so proud
Comes straight from that iPhone, from Siri, the Cloud!
That humor and wit
Has others rolling to and fro
Would they laugh at all if they too watched the Late Show?
You are a human compass
But where would you be without GPS?
Completely informed political views?
How informed must you be
To simply disagree with FOX News?
From what I recall
Your sculpted physique
Is the product of photoshop and printer ink
I say one thing of yours is truly the best
You lie and you cheat
To bamboozle the rest
Congrats on your achievement!
You’ve won this round
You’re also the best at pushing me out.
Laeia Jackson, MSIII
This is the beginning
The rich land of kings and queens
Of pyramids and dynasties
And fertility, prosperity, eternity
In our eyes and in our blood is golden
A lineage that runs through the ages
This was our land
Tell us about their lineage
Long, everlasting, and enduring
This is the middle
Things have had time to get complicated
Our legs and hands are tied
And the sound of the whip
The crack against our back drips gold
A cold gold into the ground
That we chose to call our home
And sweat that tilled the soil
Diamonds in the hot summer sun
Tell us about our lineage
We run with barking at our backs
From the crack of the whip and a gun
Tell us about our lineage
But our race has just begun
Every eye is turned north
The source of every dream
The reason that we cry
The reason why we bleed
And this is the end
The end that never comes
A silence that speaks of dreams
The burning cross in your front yard
The end of a looped rope hanging from a tree
Here the stage is littered with bodies
The price of freedom paid
This is our land, our blood is in it
The destination that we cannot help imagining
The beginning of the end,
But only the beginning
Nathaniel Smith, MSIII
The color you were wearing when
we first met wasn’t quite purple
but neither was it blue (i
remember because your
eyes are the color of the
cloudless sky that summer)
…perhaps it was violet?
i knew a violet once.
she was pretty.
but this poem is for you,
Raymond McDermott, MSIII
Lonely is driving through the city with the window down
Too late for dinner with friends, too early for the club
Lonely is voice mail and unanswered text messages
Lonely is much needed me time
that you fill with whatever you can find
gossip, BET, Jersey Shore, prayer, and affirmations
to distract you
Scientifically matter is defined as anything
having or consisting of mass
Force or weight equals mass times acceleration
Lonely is tangible, lonely is heavy, lonely has mass
lonely is matter; so by default
It causes thoughts to race uncontrollably
thoughts of inadequacy
thoughts that question the need for being here
Weight equals mass times acceleration
Lonely equals mass, thought equals acceleration
The two multiplied together produce weight
Being lonely is a weight unto oneself
a heavy load to bare alone
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Whitney Stansbury, MS IV
It begins in November, usually. Senior medical students all over the United States begin interviewing for residency positions. Our flight paths cross one another–Seattle to Miami, Boston to California, then back home again. A visible mapping of our travels would form a thick net of interconnected wishes and hopes. We hope to land ourselves into top programs of our chosen specialties. We hope to remember all the details of dozens of programs, cramming in hotel rooms before interview day. We hope to have the crispest suits and sharpest shoes. We hope for recognition. We hope to stand out. We hope to make an impression.
But where does the enjoyment and learning end and the simply performing begin? When do we stop tap dancing and start being who we are as future physicians? The question sits atop my cerebrum uncomfortably, because I’ve worked so hard….to go to residency and to work harder, of course! Well, no, that’s not quite it. I’ve had to stop and remind myself of my origins. I didn’t come to medical school to be impressive. I came to learn how to be a healer. And I imagine that it’s not much different than you. So how has the drive to be impressive shaped this interviewing season of my life? The true question is one that a wise man asked me once: “Do I want to be impressive, or do I want to be known?”
Residency interviewing season is not the time to tell people what they want to hear. It’s more akin to dating. You take the program out for a drink or for coffee and chat about what truly matters to you both, spilling out the contents of your longing hearts. Okay, perhaps it’s more like speed dating, but, still, this is a time for honesty about what matters to you. Becoming chameleons, compromising one’s true self to impress a program director in hopes of climbing the ranking charts is a regrettable act that lands students into programs that prove unsuitable and incompatible with their aspirations. Kinda like marrying a person under false pretense. Friends! This is a time to travel the United States, to have fun, and most importantly to be true to ourselves. This is a time to be known and to get to know others.
But, in reality, how frightening is that? To be known instead of to be impressive is no feat for the faint of heart. We’ve also been striving to be impressive for almost eight years of our lives, and for many of us, longer, throwing up walls to hide behind for self-preservation. I will speak for myself when I say that performing continually is an exhausting journey–striving to do someone else’s best instead of my own. But that’s okay. There is time to take on the challenge of being who we truly are. I am confident that the challenges will prove to be a small sacrifice for the 3, 5, or 7 year marriage to whichever program you match. So from classrooms in our early years to private practices as seasoned physicians, let us all be courageous. Let us be ourselves. Let us be known.
Chris Salib, MS IV
He thumbs through a book of existential philosophy while doing calf-raises in front of the window of his bedroom. The sun floods the room. Yolk-yellow light on the floor warms his bare feet. He picks up the phone and calls his parents, makes sure they’ve done their morning walk. He asks them about their evening with friends, makes sure they have plans for the weekend. He kisses his wife awake in their sleep-tousled Saturday morning bed. She will make breakfast, he will take out the garbage and fix the loosened hinge on the mailbox.
In the afternoons he spends time at the park or outside a café downtown, with a notebook, people-watching, thinking of his patients that week. He daydreams, drifts in and out of himself. He loves his wife. He is reminded of Mrs J, Mrs K, Mr B and Mr Z when he sees an elderly couple sharing a cup of ice cream, walking down the busy city sidewalk. Everything is simple when there is no sickness.
He has dinner with friends. He and his wife have known the other couple for several years now. They laugh over tiny glass waxed candles. From time to time the others find him aloof, distant. He thinks about the fragility of life, how Mrs A’s cancer went into remission and the brilliance of her smile when she had heard the news, and 2 months later, how her daughter came into his office with stone-colored eyes, moist and hollowed-out, telling him how she had died in a car accident.
Regimentation, check-ups, teaching, education, patients, patience, keeping life simple, enjoying the simplicity, being adventurous and yet not destructive; the balance is painstakingly endless. There is no rest, only more or less movement. He thinks, he thinks, he rests for the night and returns to work. They say he is too serious, that he needs to relax, to enjoy life, to forget about troubling thoughts. He smiles and agrees. Yes, he must. He gazes downward and proceeds to the next patient’s room.
Joy Inneh, MSI
Midnight. My lab partner and I stepped away from the body after a two hour dissection sprint. Our group was behind on dissections, so there had been very little talking – just working around each other. While he held up intestines pulling away at mesentery, I was in the body wall, freeing a kidney from its fatty prison, our gloves slick with formaldehyde and emulsified fat. Other groups had gone nearly 40 minutes ago, but we had barely noticed, so engrossed we were in our ritualistic cutting, pulling and probing. At the end of our work, a little heap of fat and fascia sat on our cadaver’s thigh. With a sigh, my lab partner began to clean it up and I sat down on the nearest chair, finally noticing the pain in my feet.
There is something about the gross lab that exhausts you – and anyone in my class will attest to that. But this was going to be the last time I came in for dissection work. The next time I would come to the gross lab would be for tutoring or for the mock practical – to learn, to consume. But never again to dig. Never again to discover. I’d been telling people all week that I’d be bittersweet about it. My classmates scrunched their faces up at the thought. Who in their right mind would actually miss the gross lab?
Who could miss the choking smell of formaldehyde? The white lab coats that would never come clean again? The slipperiness of every surface in the entire lab? There was the stench that clung to your fingernails even after you had washed your hands twice over. Petty accidents like one of your lab partners accidentally flicking fat onto your face. Weekend nights spent pulling fascia. The fear and disappointment when one of your classmates pulled out an important “taggable” structure. It is nothing to be missed. Yet, I still feel annoyingly emotional about it.
“You gonna move?” my partner asked me, holding up one of the swinging metal lids. But I told him to wait. “Let’s just look at it.”
So we did.
We had done good work in the abdomen – our best work actually. Probably because the structures were larger and our clumsy hands had less of a chance of really messing up anything. Or maybe because we have just gotten better. Our probes and scalpels were no longer foreign metal tools in our hands but precise projections.
I remember the first day we opened the bag to meet the body we would become intimately acquainted with. I remember how my whole lab group had shirked away from the table because there was a human body lying there – a whole human. I remember how none of us wanted to touch the body. I called my mom after, a little sick, because it was my first time dealing with human death.
I remember my uneasiness but I also remember my first cut. I remember the first time we were finally able to distinguish a nerve from an artery. I remember our excitement when we first looked upon the beginnings of the brachial plexus, carefully plucked out of the armpit like a jewel out of the mud. And there other moments like that too – admiring the white intertwining tendons of the forearm, the large carotids in the neck. Amazed at the fine muscles of the face, the lifting up of the rib cage to get into the thorax, the great winding wanderer, the vagus nerve shooting its way down into the abdomen, and the uncovering of the heart from its pericardial sac. We had taken what was once a human being and stripped it down to its core to see what was inside. Or, as Dr. Jackson would say, to admire the work of “The Committee Upstairs.”
I wonder now, when did the change come? When did the body on the table become a cadaver? And when did my classmates and I go from bright-eyed MAPS students to hardened and weary medical students? One of our professors had said to us that their job was to strip us down, to dissect out of us the stuff that would make us Meharry physicians. But, unlike the cadavers in the gross lab, we can be built back up again.
Perhaps I’m bittersweet because the end of our gross lab course marks another change in us. Another milestone. An objective crossed off the list. I haven’t even finished a full semester of my medical education, but the person I was at the beginning is a far cry from the person I am now. This person is a little more sure-footed, more forgiving of her mistakes, can memorize and integrate more information more quickly and drinks more coffee than the daily recommended intake. The work is demanding, but the rewards are tangible and equal to the amount of effort put in. Just as we spend hours in the gross lab perfecting structures until they are clean and clear, we’ll spend the same amount of hours perfecting ourselves, removing the hindrances and keeping the essentials.
My lab partner and I close the body up. Our work in the gross lab is done. There are showers and warm beds somewhere waiting for us. Tomorrow the marathon continues. We will rise in the morning and start studying for our block exams and our final practical. Dr. Jackson told us in the beginning of it all that it was a privilege to dissect the human body, and a privilege it has been.