On April 14th, Arts in Health hosted a narrative medicine workshop for USF Morsani medical students. Together, they read the poem “Almost Human” by Ocean Vuong and discussed the emotions and feelings evoked. In the second half, students were given 5-7 minutes to respond to the prompt: “What are the fragments of your life?”. Below are the students’ artistic creations:
By Rena Jiang
By Su Bin Hahn
When I think of my younger self, I think of shattering. Shards of porcelain teacups littering the ground like autumn leaves, each time I learned that love isn’t real, and I couldn’t trust anyone, even myself. Mirrors cracked and disjointed, until I could see me, and me, and me, and me from every angle and yet each one didn’t feel right. It felt like slipping on shed reptilian skin expecting a silk dress, but instead adhering to me like rice paper until its skin felt like mine and mine was its.
by Jules Wang
Who am I without all of my sisters? Who are halves of my whole, the whole that is family. But I left them, I travelled across the country to come here, left my bones behind in California, out where I’ve lived my whole life. When I feel the gritty sand beneath my feet I imagine it all came from the same place and one day, like the ocean, I will return there. To where the oceans meet and flow together.
Part of me is here but part of me is still there, and without all of me I am halves and pieces, split into so many sections like an orange, all slivered down.
I wish to reveal myself slowly, as if I were an onion layer by layer but sometimes I am turned inside out and what is outside is tougher, so it hurts to feel the insides.
by Toriana Dabkowski
A picture of my first pet
And one of my uncle that I never met
An empty bottle of my favorite liquor
One that your hands used to pour
A skateboard I can no longer ride
My old sketchbooks placed to the side
I’m cleaning house
I’ve never seen them all laid out
A monument to fragments of my life
Pieces of places where my soul would reside
And I put them in boxes.
by Samuel Araque Mendez
The balance is difficult
For the scale is not two-sided.
It is a multi-faceted spectrum
Branching out on all sides,
Cradling the Pieces of Me.
It always seems that one side gets too heavy
And pulls the scales down towards it
Dragging with it all of my energy and time.
All of me.
Soon that piece, pulling its weight ten times over,
Is all that’s left of me,
The other ends of the scale tipped up and run dry.
I have to work a hundred times over
To refill that which I neglected
And to remember all I am.
For I am not only one piece.
I am all the Pieces of Me
by Payton Mulkey
The morning, before the sun rises and the neighborhood wakens, belongs to me. Well, first to the corgis who demand breakfast no later than 4:15 am. Then I have time for a cup of coffee that my husband teases me is more milk than coffee. The sharing of memes in my group chat of other pre-drawn risers. The wordle. And finally, a bike ride because if I don’t get my workout in now it won’t happen later.
Once I put on my scrubs and enter the sliding doors of the hospital my time is no longer belongs to me. I have patients to round on, first the sickest ones, then those who can be discharged. My attempts at efficiency interrupted by a constant string of pages. Mr. Jones is back from procedure, can he eat? Mrs. James’ daughter would like you to call her for an update.
Some days I have students and residents and my time bends to fit their schedules. Are we overflow or post-call? Let’s talk about anticoagulation. When will we have time for feedback?
I make it to my day off and swap scrubs for my apron. Creaming butter and sugar. Mixing in the flour until just combined but no more or you’ll get gluten which is great for bread, but terrible for cake.
by Dr. Jennifer Caputo-Seidler
a page lies open to a blurry brain scan with a coffee stain spilling over its left hemisphere.
I think about calling my mom to ask her if she went on her walk today yet. I decide not to.
the succulent on my desk has brown patches over its purple pads. When was the last time I watered it? I’ll water it tomorrow.
the socks on my feet have holes in them but I hate to throw away the things that have been with me for so long. I wiggle my toes comfortably, as the cold linoleum seeps in through patches.
I think about the word blue – a feeling, a color, a sky, an ocean – and write pages and pages without once writing the word blue.
the lamp casts a hazy glow over an indescribable feeling of euphoria: pictured, my friends next to me, laughing about nothing and everything.
I hope to one day grow into myself, the blue version of myself that is made of pages and pages. I call my mom later that night and tell her I miss her.
by Meera Nagpal