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medicine

Attending

December 3, 2020

I can’t tell you why I rented the theater downtown, other than that it was inevitable, like the notes of a song. Facing the rows of empty velvet seats, I felt the thrust of potential. At night, doctors stood on stage telling stories—not of helicopter rides and loss of blood, but of waffling, of wanting, of grappling with themselves. The audience arrived like spirits, craving not entertainment but something more fundamental and urgent. I sat backstage, eyes closed, living and dying in every pause, every ripple of laughter. This—a live storytelling event by those in health care, for those in health care—was the first thing I had ever originated, one that came from the roiling place inside of me and not a script.

 

Narrative Rhythms

Electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors are like nonfiction writers: taking in the world and spitting it out in fewer dimensions with more meaning—maybe even some sense.

Photo by Dawn Whitmore

Tent Revival

For three days, thousands of uninsured Americans converge on the Wise County Fairgrounds for the largest pop-up clinic in the country. Most are poor, many are in pain, but all have faith in a level of care that neither the government nor private industry can provide.

Gosia Herba

Soucouyant

The mouse before me is dead, its body emptied of organs. Dead but still innervated, so still blinking in this world. I only harvest from their core—heart, lungs, liver, and the rest—but soon I will have to work with their brains.

The Medical Venus

In the patient, quiet museum, she is exhibited
closed, indehiscent inside a glass casket,

reclining on her back, on hair long as her spine.

Whitman Now

To contemplate Walt Whitman now, at the dawn of a new millennium in an America so deeply troubled by division and hypocrisy—almost the antithesis of the great nation of inclusion and tolerance he envisioned in Leaves of Grass—is intensely ironic indeed.