the healing muse

Volume 9, 2009

Talking Poetry with Medical Students

Lisa Kerr

—after Mary Oliver

I'll tell you a few things about my semester with medical students.
You tell me if this class was worth the time.

We read poems together, stories, a novel.
Talked theme and metaphor, discussed form, process;

Sat in a circle, desks shoved up against winter, elbows
nudged into each other, away from the cold.

Spring came, and the desks fell away to the edges,
students sprawled and yawned over poems in yellow light.

One day, butterflies thronged the flowers outside our windows.
They were coy and decorous at their business, full of swarm and tremble.

The student who was closest stretched out a finger, tapped glass.
We all felt that soft clicking in our bellies.

At the end, students wrote papers about rotations. One wrote of a gunshot
girl and her grieving mother whose arms flapped until she levitated.

Another student wrote lyrics instead of an essay, his a capella
song changed the shape of the room, the margins of our bodies.

The student who’d tapped glass wrote about her first organ harvest,
about how the heart of a dead boy had fluttered defiantly,
impossibly in her hands.

Return to Table of Contents, Volume 9, 2009.

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