Pulse newmasthead 10th anniv 2252x376px

About More Voices

Every month More Voices invites readers to contribute short nonfiction prose pieces of 40 to 400 words on a healthcare theme.



new subscription

Join the 11,000+ who receive Pulse weekly

energize subscription 
Energize your subscription
with a contribution and
Pulse vibrant

Sophia Görgens

The first mistake I made
was leaving my ID card home
in the pocket of my fleece--
the one with a zipper that broke
in Namibia and a hole stabbed
by a pencil during finals, worn
deep with worry and time.
Later, I asked someone else
to let me into the lab.
We made small talk in the hall.

Second, it was drizzling and my umbrella
knew not where it was. How poetic!
I mean to say, I forgot it too.
Morning lecture dried my frizzled hair,
and anyway, maybe cadavers like
the smell of rain.

Third, I offered to help
because turning the body is heavy,
and I secretly wanted to see her face.

Fourth, only this:
instead, I looked at her toes,
and they were painted bright red.

About the poet:

Sophia Valesca Görgens attended Boston College, where she studied biology and English with a concentration in creative writing. She is currently a medical student at Emory University.

About the poem:

"On the first day of Human Anatomy's dissection number two (gluteal, thigh, knee), I offered to help my teammates turn the cadaver. This can be a difficult task, and it's always easier with more people. Of course, this was the day I rushed out of my apartment completely unprepared--not only without my ID card or umbrella but also without a sense of what to expect. To be confronted by our cadaver's humanity in the simplicity of her painted toes...it took my breath away. When I closed my eyes, there in the cadaver lab, I was suddenly transported to her hospital room, to a daughter and mother having one last conversation, sharing one last laugh, painting their toenails together, defying death with their love."

Poetry editors:

Johanna Shapiro and Judy Schaefer


# june dowis 2016-10-09 22:05
This is beautiful
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
# janice mancuso 2016-10-04 13:15
Sophia is one more shining example of the quality of today's medical students...and tomorrow's physicians. "She studied biology and English." The humanities matter.

PS Come on, Pulse readers... we need to financially support this site, better than we are currently. I have no connection to Pulse other than being a faithful and ardent reader. I can't imagine life without this respite of beauty and wonder each week. (And I imagine the day Pulse may have to face the dreaded decision of whether or not to accept ad revenue in order to survive. I am currently at a place in life where I count pennies. I will contribute 500 pennies to Pulse today because this poem inspired me, a day I needed inspiration.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
# Marilyn Hammick 2016-10-01 01:58
Powerful poem .. so much said in so few words with the language of ordinary life. Thank you
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
# Greg Stidham 2016-09-30 22:01
Magnificent, Sophia. You have captured something so immediately accessible to those who've survived medical school, but elevated it to something that can move others, without medical experience, with the gift of a portal of insight into transcending death. Obviously written by a young physician-to-be with great sensitivity and the power of craft to capture and share that. May you never lose that humble power.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
# Linda Clarke 2016-09-30 19:55
How beautiful this poem is! It brings back such memories of time spent in the anatomy lab. It brings back such gratitude.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
# gretchen gundrum 2016-09-30 18:52
This poem is breath-taking. Thank you so much to Pulse and the poet, Sophia.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
# Pam Mitchell 2016-09-30 18:15
This is really beautiful. Thank you Sophia.
I agree with the comment about the power of using cadavers which I did also in nursing school. It was very moving for me then as I was pregnant with my first child and conscious of the amazing cycle of life. Also, I saw a video once of a special Mass that I think was via Georgetown where the people who donated their bodies were honored. Very moving.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
# Pat Kenney-Moore 2016-09-30 17:41
This! This is why anatomy with cadavers is so important to continue. It reminds us that there is/was a human being involved-in a way that virtual learning can never do. I believe that working with cadavers can trigger human connections that create powerful messages. Thank you for this essay.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote