Medical Student’s Lament

I no longer feel human.
The center of my brain has fallen out –
phone numbers of friends,
my mother’s lullaby when I was three,
yellow daffodils in the rain –
I no longer linger on these.

My parents are now
white-coated lecturers bringing
simultaneous information,
five forms of data:
chalk, overhead pen,
you must, you must, you must,
photo of people you want to cry about so you laugh,
sounds and the power of the multiple choice test.

Sometimes people move to a new town
and they forget why they came.
They mow their lawns,
they make friends,
they get used to living next to the cemetery,
above radioactive ash, and without telephones.

In the smallest ways,
I’ve moved into medicine’s
latest storefront on the mall.
I’ve learned to live on promises
of a better day next week,
next year.
When Thursday comes,
I may forget why I came.

Janet Wong, Chicago, Class of 1996

Originally published in Vol. XI: 1995