Hospice and Catching Comprehension

Johanna Shapiro

The two poems in this issue are contributed by medical students, at the time of writing in their third year of training. They both describe clinical situations of great vulnerability—a patient dying of metastatic lung cancer and a non-English speaking woman undergoing a pelvic exam. In both poems, the patients are limited by lack of control. In both, the students are similarly limited by what they can and cannot do — the student in “Hospice” cannot save her patient; the student in “Comprehension” cannot communicate with her patient. Both take refuge in the tangible body of the patient, the chest, uterus, an ankle — but the answers they long for are not forthcoming.

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