Our Hands

Braid a child’s hair in precise beaded rows

And shave a scalp just enough to access
Skin flap, skull, brain, tumor

Fold over a learner’s fingers to guide a needle
This angle here with this much pressure
Slide together into a hidden space

Sew on lost buttons, fix torn seams

And shut a jagged wound with neat stitches
Wishing the unseen harms could be repaired

Feel gently for an absent pulse
To confirm what silence already knows
And drag new humans wailing into brightness

Call for Entries

Pulse Writing Contest

"On Being Different"

Tabor Flickinger is a poet and primary-care physician who lives in Charlottesville, VA. Her works have appeared in Pulse as well as in The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Hospital Drive and The Healing Muse.

About the Poem

“This poem honors the many tasks performed by healthcare workers, both at home and at work, both mundane and life-changing. We can impart care for others in every action through mindful presence.”


4 thoughts on “Our Hands”

  1. Katharine Barnard

    I love the imagery. I love the way you convey the wholeness not only of full spectrum medical practice but also the doctor as whole person.

  2. Being in the middle of the challenges and joys of teaching new residents – wondering when to guide and when to step in – this poem resonated with me.

  3. Dr. Louis Verardo

    Dr. Flickinger, this was a wonderful poem, done with an economy of language; you covered quite a bit of ground in only a dozen lines. Thank you for ending my week on such a soulful note.

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Call for Entries

Pulse Writing Contest

"On Being Different"