Journeying in Medicine, Part 2

The Medical Humanities Society at Des Moines University presents its second online arts gallery, “Journeying in Medicine.” It features art works and the written word by DMU students depicting their own path to and through medicine.

Gallery curators are Caitlin Descovich O’Hare, a second-year osteopathic medical student, and Charles Gaccione, a first-year osteopathic medical student. They are executive officers of the Medical Humanities Society.

This installment of the gallery features submissions by Mahum Mirza, a member of the osteopathic medical Class of 2020, and Charles Gaccione, a member of the osteopathic medical Class of 2022.

Mahum Mirza – in her own words: This was taken early at 6 a.m. at the hospital where I was doing my first rotation for M3. It was an absolutely stunning sunrise with the clouds and the colors. I’ve captured many sunsets and sunrises, but this was unparalleled. The previous day, one of my patients had been declared brain dead; he was only in his late 20s. Telling his wife of just one month was one of the most painful experiences. I had cried so much on my drive home, and driving to the hospital that morning took a lot of self-convincing. Seeing this sunrise before going in reminded me that while terrible things happen to people every day, for no reason whatsoever, it’s important to somehow keep your eyes on the beauty in this world and to keep going.

Charles Gaccione – in his own words: One of my earliest hands-on experiences in the world of medicine was as a hospital volunteer, escorting visitors to and from inpatient rooms. Often, this meant witnessing the initial moments of reunification between loved ones. Much is told in these first few moments, and little of it is spoken. This poem attempted to capture one such reunion, and what was revealed in those tender instants.

“Seen and Unseen”

He rises slowly from his wheelchair,
bones resigned to the effects of time,
and moves delicately toward her bedside.

She is as old as he, perhaps older still,
her frailty evident by the anguish
found within twisted lines across her face.

“My darling,” are the only words whispered,
as he cups her cheek gently and leans in
to kiss pained lips with tender assurance.

Roots, long and knotted, unfurl from beneath the bed,
weaving across the floor until the room is covered,
hospital tiles replaced by darkened soil and growth.

Bursting from fresh ground is a trunk, gnarled bark
covering ring after ring, as branches extend and expand,
limbs reaching outward and upward in defiant pose.

Weathered as this tree appears, blossoms still grow,
vibrant and rich in color as they fill outstretched arms,
providing a safe refuge for the two figures below.

Suddenly, the room returns to a clinical white,
pale tiles on the floor, a sterile cold in the air.
Gone are the roots, the branches, and the bark.

Yet from somewhere inside, what is now unseen remains standing, blossoms blooming into the night.