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P is for pulse

Pounding against her fingers, fading

To a subtle knock against skin, interrupting

The shared moment that was her whole lifetime

His lifetime now departing, his hand holding hers tight—  

The hand that traced letters of the alphabet, as she learned the lines


His fingers taught her to tell time,

Tapping along to the hands 

Ticking on his silver watch, always far too heavy on his wrist

Seconds you use to count the pulse, 

But time stops at this bedside


Q is for questions

For the round of ghosts judging from the door

Today a blue coat hugs her shoulders, yesterday she was in white,

Before, her a wielder of CABG, today a heart is two lopsided

Cs drawn with him on her childhood floor


The surgeon gives the speech, she shivers,

The young minds scribble–his potassium, they know

Not his Sunday morning bananas over the bowl

Of cereal he made her, no time to try


R is for respect

Without any tears, eyes exude empathy learned

To sorrow she cannot unlearn

She weeps into words she, for the first time,

Cannot say


The young eyes attune, still full of hope

His eyes open, for a moment hers mirror,

She remembers the numbers, and it streams into the

Pupillary abyss—the hope, almost gone


S is for stress

A heart arrested somewhere on a table

Handcuffs tear into her skin—only crime is 

Shared pilfered memories—she bleeds

Fear from her shaking hands into the makings of a hole-filled scarf

She knits, the loops of sutures in another surgeon’s command


T is for time,

Not enough – they prep to close

The door, it shuts, she sits beside him

Worth a try, he says, they turn down the lights

Still glistening for a moment, then go out the eyes 

EMILIJA SAGAITYTE is a medical student at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, class of 2026.

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