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Medical Humanities

teen clinic

Jackie Dallaire
published April 21, 2020


They walk through the doors

Hands full of phones with charger cords and headphones dangling

purses backpacks chick fil a 

wearing flip flops spandex sweaters jeans crop tops

they are loud and exuberant, quiet and shy

they yell and they smile

laugh cry play loud music.

Contained chaos, they are forces of nature

But they are also young and they have Questions


And Stories.


There are some days when

it is hard to breathe with the weight of their stories.

Hidden stories that lurk behind benign reasons to visit clinic



Stories of pain and trauma, of confusion and loneliness

Pressured to have sex they don’t want to have

Family members ripped away in violence

Abuse   Neglect   Unwanted pregnancy


Some days

You spend the visit

Trying to collect the pieces of their childhood off the floor

Trying to patch it up and put it back together

Into something that smells like warm cookies in the oven after school

And fresh cut grass on a Sunday morning

That feels like a warm hug on a bad day

A Spiderman bandaid on a skinned knee.

Something good and bright

Trying to give them what they deserve

The deep and steady knowing of their own worth.


In the quiet moments after clinic, when the last patient is gone

On those days, on the bad days

There is an echo of pain

As if each room were a time capsule slowly opening

The walls whispering, retelling the stories that have seeped into the sterile white paint.


On the really bad days, you are the time capsule

And your brain whispers the stories you have borne witness to.


We call them teens

Those in the awkward progression between child and adult.

But in some of them there is no time for awkward, no time for progress

No time

In them, there is only war between the adult life has forced them to become

And the child chasing them through the years, arms full of innocence and hope.

A little girl running through an empty park

A fistful of balloon strings tangled in her fingers

Hoping to catch up in time to give what she has left

Before the wind sweeps it away.


Storytellers and truthspeakers, fighters, children

They come and they go

and their resilience leaves you breathless.

         the necessity of their resilience breaks your heart.

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