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Jeanne LeVasseur ~

Even now, some eat strawberries in the sunshine,
some pace the deck in a strong salt breeze,
while for others, the music is winding down.
Always unfair–a few of us in lifeboats,
some sinking in the icy water,
others on a slanting deck about to go under.

We make salami sandwiches on rye,
smoke a cigarette after passionate love,
and wave goodbye to

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Matthew Hirschtritt

Walking from an exam room to the nurse’s station in the small outpatient clinic where I worked as a second-year medical student, I paused by a window to gaze out at the winter sunset. After a moment, I looked down to scan the notebook where I kept my schedule and notes for my last patient of the

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Mementos and Memories

Paul Rousseau

Delores sits tilted to the right in a worn wheelchair, a curtain separating her from a sleeping roommate. 

She is wearing a blue blouse stained with something orange, perhaps Jell-O, and white pants and white socks. A worn gold wedding band adorns the fourth finger of her left hand. Her hair is a shiny gray, perfectly coiffed,

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Joanne Wilkinson

I have a stress test nearly every year. I do this because my mother dropped dead of a heart attack when she was thirty-six, and now I am thirty-five.

They stick EKG leads on me, and for weeks I have blotchy red circles on my skin where it’s reacted to the adhesive. I run on the treadmill. Sometimes the cardiologist scans my heart and arteries with ultrasound; other times, he injects me

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An Intern’s Guilt

Anna Kaltsas

“She’s been here for two months already. She’s very complicated; you’re going to be spending a lot of time with her and her family,” my fellow intern said as she began signing out her patients to me. 

It was my first rotation in the medical intensive care unit, and I was terrified. I was in my first few months as a “real” practicing physician–a title that I still felt uncomfortable with. If a

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Invisible Thread

Donald O. Kollisch

From: Michael

To: Donald O. Kollisch
Subject: Serious medical update


I can’t say for sure why I’m writing to you, but you were such an important part of my life during the onset of my illness that I feel a strong desire to communicate with you.

The mysterious autoimmune disorder that was lurking in my body has finally had the decency to declare itself.

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The Limits of Medicine

I can not change the color of the sky.

The texture of the rain, the distance of a star
must needs be fixed by ancient ritual
unaccepted by our modernity.

I can not change the length of your night.
The number of hours, the days of your life
are set by stern fate, impassive to sighs,
unsympathetic, and cold to your plight.

I can not count the breaths that are left.
Day into day, year

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Finding Innisfree

Roger looked up at me over the oxygen mask, his eyes drawn wide by the sores stretching his face. He lifted a hand for me to take.

“I’m glad you’re here,” Jen had said before I’d entered his room. “They’ve taken him off a lot of the medication. He’s very lucid, but he’s depressed and scared.”

The previous fall, Roger and Jen had begun couples therapy with me. They were both thirty-two and had been

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Mothers and Meaning

John G. Scott

“Dr. Scott, this is Dr. Font.” The call came from my mother’s cardiologist as I was about to see my first patient of the morning. “Your mother is worse. You’d better come as soon as you can. I don’t think she’ll survive the day.” Those blunt words shattered my denial: I had convinced myself that it was possible to fix the cumulative, lifelong damage wreaked on my mother’s heart by her atrial

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