Natalie Moreno | MD Candidate/Medical Student, University of Michigan Medical School

The Last Breath

FROM THE AUTHOR:

COVID-9 has disproportionately claimed minority lives. Being a Hispanic medical student, I was moved to write a villanelle encapsulating the effects of social distancing between a Latina and her ill grandmother by including details such as Don Francisco and empanadas. I chose the villanelle style since lines repeat in cycles the same way inhalation and exhalation do. It is my hope that one day minority physicians are recognized as essential to medical care as breathing is to survival. Once this is accomplished, we can promote equity among minority patients.


The Last Breath

Alone in her room, she sighs deep one last time.
She reaches for the remote to turn
Off the screen. I wish I for her hand in mine.

One thousand miles away the robins chime
While I bake empanadas with her polka dot mitts. They burn.
Alone in my room, I sigh deep one last time.

Why am I in this forsaken college town? I’m studying quinines
Off of powerpoint slides, but abuelita misses me. I turn
Off the screen. I wish I for her hand in mine.

When I call, she’s watching Don Francisco on channel 9.
His hair gray. Eyes dark and baggy. Tonight she won’t yearn
Alone in her room. She sighs deep one last time.

The code team rushes in. She flat lines.
Don Francisco shouts “Ir!” I can’t see. Because they turn
Off the screen. And the whole time I wish for her hand in mine,

Because tonight she leaves this pandemic paradigm,
Her last breaths the air dispelled from a brimming cistern.
She still felt alone in her room when she sighed deep the last time.
Off the screen, I still wish I for her hand in mine.


Immigrant and Minority Physicians at the Frontlines of Pandemics

FROM THE AUTHOR:

When COVID-19 emerged, pre-existing gaps in care and social injustices were widened. Being a Latina, I was acutely aware of the current physician shortage, now amplified by the pandemic, and the number of DACA recipients that constitute our medical workforce. Recalling the remarkable medical contributions immigrants and minorities have made throughout history, I was compelled to raise awareness. It is an unfortunate truth that underrepresented individuals are perceived as riding the wave. I used this article to showcase only a few minorities who were at the forefront of excellence and changed history.

READ:

    Immigrant and Minority Physicians at the Frontlines of Pandemics