Patient no more

-Dr. Shivangi Shankar

Her name is a blur

I think I forgot it on purpose 

to ensure anonymity. 

To ensure distance.

To ensure she meant

nothing more than

her chief complaints

and her history of present illness.

And her past history and her

drug history and if she 

had ever been to one of my kind,

how long ago 

and how many times?

What caused the scars

and who twisted her arm?

Or if she menstruated

and if she ever stopped, 

or if she had children

or if any died or if she

had pain during coitus

Or if she ate well, slept well

if her piss was okay

if she shit yesterday,

if her mother died

and how-

I knew her intimately,

yet not at all.

Her tears never burned my soul 

but if she wept them I saw them.

Her secrets are mine to bear

and sometimes I forget

maybe on purpose

but I heard them.

I tuck them into her grave

I shall carry them to mine.

To the Jane Does,

whose condition I beheld.

I hope you get to be

more than a diagnosis or disease. 

The ones we couldn’t heal,

they, too, were. 

And we shall mourn them.

For a moment, we shall forget

ourselves instead, and find

in the haze of the sick

and the dying and the dead-

a person who once lived. 

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