A Vitruvian Man

Tabor Flickinger

He marked a copy of da Vinci’s sketch
To map his ailments: drew an arrow from
The eye to cataracts, the feet nerve pain.

The groin said hernia, the navel at
The center of it all colostomy.
He offers up this artifact to his

New doctor: fills the outline with a tale
Of his true flesh unique in variance
From all ideal cosmographies of man.

About the poet:

Tabor Flickinger is a primary-care physician who also enjoys creative writing and believes that these two disciplines are complementary methods to pursue a deeper understanding of humanity. Her work has appeared in Pulse, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Hospital Drive and Abaton.

About the poem:

“This poem was inspired by a patient whose artistic representation of himself and his medical history gave a truer picture of who he was than the generic language of his electronic records.”

Poetry editors:

Johanna Shapiro and Judy Schaefer

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About the Poem


3 thoughts on “A Vitruvian Man”

  1. Peter de Schweinitz

    Very nice! This poem is so clear and concise, honing in a profound and yet simple idea. I have often thought these things, but now you have given me a simple image to keep in my mind and pull out when needed.

    1. Ditto. My thoughts exactly.

      (I googled both the poet and the commenter to learn more about them, and I came upon “One Cold Autumn Day” by Dr. de Schweinitz in Annals of Family Medicine…another masterpiece I wouldn’t have discovered without Pulse).

      1. Peter de Schweinitz

        You’re too kind, Janice! And so, likewise, I’ve found the Osler Symposia from 2012. That sounds like the kind of conference I would have liked to have attended!

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Call for Entries​

Pulse Writing Contest​​

"On Being Different"