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Medical Humanities

Arterial Puncture

Phoebe Prioleau

Published August 23, 2019

In my left hand

I brace this one-day-old arm,

forming a tight “C” 

with thumb and index. 

The arm is now straight,

fixed in place;

I begin the search.


First, find the creases

beneath the palm. 

Almost parallel, they deepen

as the fist clenches.

The pulse is faint 

but there.

I uncap my needle.


At 30 degrees, I aim 

for the soft flesh.

The arm jerks, a hooked fish 

trying to free itself.

I wrestle it back, 

advance the needle but

the arm has clamped down.

I must pull back

and try again.


Phoebe is a second-year pediatrics resident at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, OH. Before medical school, she pursued graduate studies in French literature and art history. She has published creative work in Doximity, The Living Hand, Annals of Internal Medicine, and The Journal of Medical Humanities, among other places.

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