Poem - Two Lives
Journey of Hearts
A Healing Place
On Coping with Gross Anatomy
poem that follows is one that was recommended to me by Cathy Galloway from
the Southern Medical Journal, when I requested permission to use the article
that I had written about dealing with the human cadaver, It's
Since the site is being accessed
by medical schools as a resource for students, I obtained permission from
the Southern Medical Journal to reprint this article for the website.
by Andrew J. Lipman
This poem was read
at a memorial service honoring participants in the Uniform Anatomical Gift
Act, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, on December 3, 1996.
The poem was published in the Southern
Medical Journal in March 1997;90:293 and appears with permission
from both the Author and the Journal.
Sometimes we wanted to know
your name, but we gave you one.
Last updated April 26, 1998
The drawing is that of Leonardo Da Vinci's famous study of the
human figure, perfectly proportioned within the square and the circle.
Many of the artists of the late 15th century, including Michelanglo
and Leonardo Da Vinci, to improve their knowledge studied human anatomy
actively pursued anatomical dissections. The two depicted figures, separate
but connected seemed a perfect illustration for two lives and the sentiment
expressed by Andrew Lipman.
The poem was published
in the Southern Medical Journal in March 1997;90:293 and appears with permission
from both the Author, Andrew Lipman and the journal.
All material, unless otherwise specified, is copyrighted
1997-8 by Journey of Hearts A Healing Place in CyberSpace. We invite you
to share the information on this site with others who may benefit, but
ask that you share from the heart only and not for profit.
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I guess that means that you
almost had two identities, really two lives:
One with your family who came
here today, the other with your students who also came.
Many will want to speak about
your tremendous gift--and it is.
Others will want to extol the
virtues of studying the human body.
I want to share with you some
of my transgressions.
I would be lying if I said I
always came to class...
Lying if I said at all times
I kept you covered to protect your dignity...
Remiss if I did not mention
that you made me nervous sometimes,
especially at the beginning
of our relationship...
Did I sometimes fail to respect
you as much as I should have? yes...
Was I ever angry with you? yes...
Sometimes you hid things from
My teachers call that missing
points on tests.
But, despite these transgressions,
I call it not paying attention
You did what you set out to
do when you gave me your body.
William Carlos Williams said
"in surgery, man sees what God
never meant him to see."
I think it's the same with anatomy.
Now, I can't go back.
His point is that very few of
us have such a privilege.
I will always know that a human
heart looks like. It's almost reflexive: someone says an anatomic term
and I can close my eyes and see it--in fact, I see yours.
But I guess I'm most amazed by your
total trust in strangers.
There are so few examples of
this trust to guide us anymore.
Instead, you gave completely of
yourself to all,
I think it would be presumptuous
to think you trusted me, personally, because I could have been anyone.
in hopes of teaching us a lesson
You have set a precedent with me.
I've had my first intense relationship with a patient.
And that was you.