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A poem for student days

by Frank on November 5th, 2012




Heal Me Doctor



Teaching rounds with Dr. Morgan

Back in med school

Began at six am.

I remember one morning

We circled the bed

Of an elderly woman,

And Dr. Morgan,

Who’d written the book on bedside manner,

Began the ritual, lightly:

Here we are, my dear,

The roosters again.

How’d you sleep?

Any pain?

Breathing well?

And so forth.


Stethoscopes dangling

Like amulets

From our necks,

We students imprinted the mood,

Goslings in short white coats

Behind Morgan’s wise gander.


He calls upon one of us now to demonstrate our skills,

And the one who steps forth.

Begins by palpating belly

In search of spleen and liver.

We watch as the woman’s skin

Gives like dough.

Then he helps her sit for auscultation,

Instructing how to breathe.

We watch him skip his new stethoscope’s

Silver bell down the cachectic back

Side to side,

Hopping over stegosaurus vertebrae.

Then after this, he lay her down

And listened to what her heart

Might reveal.


All is going swimmingly

With this display of technique,

But for the fact that our friend

Had forgotten to place the ear pieces

Of his listening device

Where they might be of use

In his ears.


The laughter we could no longer suppress

Gave him pause,

The stethoscope wavering

Over the scar where some long dead surgeon

Had removed the patient’s left breast.

He straightened then and cleared his throat:

Mrs. Smith, would you mind if I listened to you again,

A different way now?

Even Dr. Morgan smiled.


She said it would be fine, adding: 

I‘ve got nowhere to go but up. 

She did not see him

Slip the prongs

Into his ears,

But smiled along

With our laughter,

As if floating on her back in a warm pool,

Eyes closed.




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