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Medical Humanities

The First Patient

Lorenzo R. Sewanan

Four strangers uncovered another, 
Isolated on their own little islands,
Little territories elevated and aerated,
The living devoured the dead.

They destroyed all the parts most recognizable,
Face, neck, chest, penis, especially hand,
Hands bring the inner self to the world,
A fist for anger, fingertips for affection,
They ripped the hands in half.

Their first patient had no name, barely a number,
Sometimes a nickname, they called him Jack.
His face was lean, aquiline, slightly green.
Jack was always smiling.
They cut his heart open to look for holes,
Found its intricate struts like spider webs,
Like a crimson flower folded upon itself, 
Origami perfected without a designer,
They looked for mistakes,
Jack was still always smiling.

Jack let them touch him, explore every inch,
Like a mother, careful but critical,
They traced the rocky outcrop of his apple,
Like a lover, attentive but anonymous,
Guessed that his voice resonated deep,
But did not want to hear his last words.

At other times, they learned to ask open questions.
Jack smiled but did not answer,
What brings you here today?
They questioned Jack and maybe themselves.
Maybe he came as an artist,
To show them with palette of flesh, 
Or as a teacher,
To educate them with unending texture, 
But not, they hoped, not that
Jack had nowhere else to go.

They hoped someone 
Had given him the rites he deserved,
Forgiven him the wrongs he had done,
Remembered him the person he had been.
They did not. They cut 

Away all the parts most recognizable.

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