Progress Notes

Honoring donors through poetic reflection

Editor’s note: It’s an honor to introduce the poems of two of my classmates with whom I had the opportunity to participate in a hands-on anatomy lab experience during our first year of medical school at Baylor College of Medicine. These pieces were presented at our Donor Honor Ceremony in March, where the medical school and health sciences classes came together to recognize the generosity imparted to us by our donors and their loved ones.

A privilege granted to medical students throughout the country, gross anatomy lab plays a crucial role in developing the hands, hearts, and minds of future physicians. Although we may never know their individual stories, the stories we have created for ourselves through our intimate interactions with our donors will persist and carry their legacies forward and into our future practices.

-Jacqueline Olive, MS1 and Progress Notes editor



By Margaret Lie, MS1

I am born with no wounds.

Unknown is the extent of my strength

For prior to this I had no knowledge of home.

My parents care for my body

And tenderly foster my fragile spirit,

Knowing that I have only time.


Growing up takes too much time,

And I am impatient with the wounds

I earn as I learn to play. The sun’s spirit

Feeds my curiosity. Building strength

Is a slow process for my body,

Which only wants to run fast and far from home.


My feet fly fast to carry me away. New home,

New faces push me forward. For the first time,

I am free. Free to be an autonomous body

In the crowd and share the wounds

Of society. I am sustained by the strength

Of the one who matches my independent spirit.


Work can buoy or defeat my spirit,

But at the day’s end I come home

To my family who is my strength.

My responsibility has increased over time.

I shoulder the burden and wounds

Of my children who are prioritized over my body.


Despite my age, I feel comfortable with my body.

I remain undefeated because my spirit

Believes itself indomitable. Past wounds

Are only dried scars that hurt no longer. The home

I built has grown with each generation, and time

Whispers that wisdom is a secret strength.

Slowly fading away, the strength

I gathered in my youth fails the body

That has served me throughout time.

I prepare for the moment when my spirit

Must depart and surround myself at home

With loved ones who do not balk at my wounds.


With great strength flies the spirit.

At last, the body finds its way home

And only time can heal old wounds

Mirror, Mirror

By Bella Abou-El-Kheir, MS1

Mirror, mirror in the tank

with two hands, your face blankly staring back at me.

with your two eyes, you do not see

and yet in you, I see me.

I see a man with personality,

who has a tattoo.

And though his face is blue,

in him, I see you.

The late shift worker, blowing rings of cigarette smoke,

she may be a New Yorker, but I’ll never know.

I know though, that with each puff her lungs fill with black snow, her judgement clouded,

I see that her end may be in sorrow,

though I pray she will see tomorrow for many years to come.

And I hope her life is filled with days

illuminated by the rays of the sun and glows of her children.

Surrounded by her loved ones,

enjoying every breath that she can, while she can.

And I hope with that breath she will sing,

her voice ringing with joys that life brings

But sometimes, life is like a gong,

rife with sounds we think wrong.

Full of tribulation, tearing at the seams –

a nation where bullets are fired from a gun or slung from behind a screen,

and where targeted therapies fail

and we see the dreams of a young one

streaming down her face in sorrow.

Together, we are all looking with hope for tomorrow.

For the magical day when all madness is driven away,

and we are people, real people once again.

openness and honesty and truth,

not that PC speech that makes everything in life seem peachy keen,

or wishy-washy beliefs to make sure we avoid everybody’s toes,

because Heaven forbid we should step on those.

But it seems to be only the old who learn this lesson.

facing a session face to face with their Maker,

they realize there is no time to beat around the bush.

All must be brought to light because

no one can hear a plight or shine a spotlight

on anything from 6 feet under.

But there are a few who further tear asunder the divisions in our generations

and choose to be fully vulnerable,

speaking as loud as thunder.

Here am I, they say,

as they cold and lifeless lay,

in a metal tank.

Rank with terrible smells.

Here I am,

Learn what you can,

because soon,

you will be the next man trying to cure what ails us during our life’s span

– whether by treatment or law or just holding their hand,

And though we tried our best,

it is now up to you to do the rest.

So take the breath that you have in your lungs

the air of life that we so desperately crave,

and behave as if every day will be your last.

Because every day is your last,

your only chance to make a mark on the future past

for future generations’ sake

So learn from our mistakes

do good and give grace,

and use your breath to fill this place.

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