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I Chose California for Medical School Because They Don't Have Hurricanes

"Slowly I am growing into this doubt"

Published onOct 26, 2023
I Chose California for Medical School Because They Don't Have Hurricanes

Photo by Enric Cruz López:

My air conditioner sounds like
“rales”— the noise you hear in lungs
filled with fluid. The whole house
is in heart failure.

One roommate kindles new romance,
the other and I sit at our laptops
nursing long-distance love
against the backdrop of groaning wind
and encroaching fog—perfect weather
for self-pity.

In my first earthquake, the house
palpitates. I am anxious to know
that other people feel it too.
That the whole world is having this
seizure with me.

Slowly I am growing into this doubt.
How day to day I cannot control
anything. How medicine attracts
the most anxious and determined people
and tells them that they cannot really know,
ever, nearly all of the things
they might have hoped to.

The walls of my room are saturated
with anxiety. Encrusted with it.
They are a bright white which is the same color
as harsh, and as angry. If they rupture,
what will they let in?
What will they let out?

I can hear a throbbing sometimes
at night, and I think maybe the house
is dying. But it’s just the dryer.

I close my eyes and this house closes
its eyes with me. Together we are
rocked to sleep.

Joey Lew is a surgical resident at Duke University. Lew holds an MFA in poetry from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (2019) and an M.D. from the University of California, San Francisco (2023). Her poetry can be seen in The MacGuffin, One, and the Journal of Medical Humanities, among other literary magazines. She placed first in the 2020 William Carlos Williams National Poetry Competition and the 2022 Lough Mask Poetry Competition and was shortlisted at the 2023 Wolverhampton Literary Festival Poetry Competition, as well as a semifinalist for the 2023 Kay Murphy Poetry Prize.

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