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The Circulating Nurse Enters the Operating Room

Cortney Davis

Let me not be blinded by the glare of the spotlight
or distracted by the tangle of plastic tubes,

the stink of anesthesia waiting in its multi-chambered
monolith of sleep. Let me stand beside the patient

and look into his eyes. Let me say, we will take care of you.
Let me understand what it is to be overcome by fear.

Let me secure my mask and

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Witnessing Consent for an Autopsy

Patty Bertheaud Summerhays

“They just cut the abdomen like an operation, look in and sew him up. No one will know.”

I know the inside story–the body parts,
the heart, brain, liver, lungs,
kidney, spleen, bowel, and bladder
sliced on a cutting board
like loaves of bread.
The coroner donning a butcher’s apron
splattered with blood from the last
scrape of blade over bone,
slipping off the scalp like a mask.
The eyes stopping him 

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Lost in the Numbers

Donald Stewart

A nurse entered the operating room; her eyes–the only part of her face visible above her surgical mask–held a look of mild distress. She stood quietly until the surgeon noticed her.

“What is it?” he said.

“It’s your patient in 208, Doctor. His pressure is 82.”

“Systolic?”

“Yes, Doctor.”

The nurse was referring to Mr. Johnson. The previous week, we’d removed a small tumor from his lung without difficulty–and, until now, without complications.

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Mistaken Identity

Surgery finished,

I finally sleep

Pushing my shoulders,
the technician wakes me 

“Come now, we need 
a chest x-ray”

Smiling, she pulls me 
into position

The x-ray machine
tight against me

Finally getting a chance, 
I ask what she is doing 

“Oh,” she says “I have
the wrong one

You are not a 64
year old male”

Lying me down, 
she walks away

As I fall back to sleep,
I wonder, now bald

what I

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