Overnight at the
County Hospital

Poetry

by Joey Lew

pain in my left arm makes me think about
how women present with heart attacks
short of breath & heart pressed down into
 
vertebrae less bluster & falling off of 
gurneys & more anxiety sweating
tension & ten out of twenty women


with heart attacks will leave still
chest heaving but without diagnosis
they say ninety minutes door to balloon 


time & these women they just go home
I ask about this to a spine surgeon
trailing him past midnight in the cavernous


back hallways past staff-only signs
at the general hospital his long white coat
my pale blue scrubs he says uh huh


& what balloon is it we’re talking about? 
then later a small woman whimpers in the ER
new joint formed between slender wrist


& elbow is admonished for recklessly
getting hit by another car her car: totaled 
her job: massage therapist & two tall


men stand over her like reapers 
trying to be kind by setting bones & siphoning 
her fear but it is bottomless the radiologist


points with a pen in the corner of 
his dark office the pin is misplaced
too late to do it again & amid all of this


failure my left arm is hurting I can get
hypochondria from hearsay so I’m saying
facts over & over again like:


things are better than they used to be 
& half of med school graduates 

are women & never mind leaky


pipelines the wrist is sewn & if I go
into surgery I’ll hold more than wrists
in my hands I am aching for the chance


to be more than a statistic but rolling
into 2 a.m. the residents say why don’t
you go home you’ve seen a thing or two


so I do unwilling to be an obstacle
& in the uber home the driver asks
about me won’t stop asking about me


& I watch the app the whole way 
small blue car on small green map
because men just don’t disappear


like women I let myself out at the corner
walk in & lock the door heart throbbing
palpitating we leave the hospital 


& the night treats us just the same

Joey Lew holds an MFA in poetry from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a BS in chemistry from Yale University. She is currently a medical student at the University of California, San Francisco. Her interviews and reviews have been published in Diode, Michigan Quarterly Review Online, and Tupelo Quarterly, and her poetry can be seen in Channel, One, and Squawk Back, among other literary journals. She recently placed first in the William Carlos Williams Poetry Competition and her work is forthcoming in the Journal of Medical Humanities.

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