So student, say sinus rhythm, say sawtooth wave form—so what? Say sine and cosine, say sweat stain, say for certain: sick or not sick or somewhere in between. If sugars, say sliding scale, if STEMI say statin, if stumble say CT. If desat say support, if seizure say swordfight, if sterile, if stable, if someone else is consulting, then sigh and breathe. If fascia say dissection, if stoma say resection. Say stippled, say sanguine, say smell of burnt sugar. Say wheezes, say breath sounds, say sectioned and quartered. Say shopkeep, say sentinel, say sorry and your patient’s sobbing mother. Say Burney’s sign, say psoas, say stunted and failure to thrive. Say sucker punch, say accident, say femur snapped right in the center. Say sundown and Posey, say sunrise and handoff. Say suffering, say anything, stay curious. Grab your coat, son, I’ll see you tomorrow.
You thought what of these quarters
of clay and terracotta? These walls playing
indestructible, this deep, dark dwelling. Boy
you tossed this heavy hideaway overboard
and it sank like any loyal thing wants to.
Do you trust this hollowed vessel, that emptiness
which has no limits? Son, there is loss and anger
swarming and punching sure as entropy,
fight so fierce they break foundation first.
Broken open, the heart and hearth still warm
with enough fire and fuel. Place your ear
to that roar—each lick of an inside burning
itself to live. Let’s see that apex, hoist that rope.
Discover what grief fills your home today.
Eric Tran is a medical student at the University of North Carolina and holds an MFA from UNCW. He is the winner of the 2015 New Delta Review Matt Clark Prose Award and was a finalist in the 2015 Indiana Review 1/2K Prize and the Tinderbox Poetry Prize. His work appears in or is forthcoming in Diagram, Indiana Review, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. For more, visit veryerictran.com