A pandemic
A civil uprising
And me, struggling to remember the course of the cranial nerves through your skull

Outside my window the streets of Philadelphia are flooded with anguish
Loud anguish
So I look up from my video on muscular dystrophy
And see her name
I hate myself for thinking:
“Oh, still that.”
As if Breonna Taylor is a dinner table conversation we’ve lingered on a little too long
As if the exhausted flow of bodies outside my window do not have jobs, worries, families, priorities they need to attend to that they set aside
Because our country
With more

A man with a megaphone stands in front of a bus with Jesus on the side and the slogan “Biden kills babies” as he yells at a woman who may be going to get a mammogram
A papsmear
An STD test
Her birth control
I log onto Zoom to finish up with my fake patient who we’ve decided has an osteoblastoma
I glance back out the window to multiple, wooden 6’ crosses being carried by men
Who wear faces like the men I see sitting too close in front of TV screens
Screaming obscenities at their own team
As if they could do it better
“So today I’m going to be presenting on the embryology of axial structures…”
I sneak one more look out the window and I hope these men are not too loud,
that their harsh Hail Mary’s do not stifle our learning.

I finish a chapter on the vestibular system and I treat myself to social media
People with my blood
Post grainy photos on Facebook
That tell me my political party is killing this country
A green bubble floats down the top of my phone and asks me if I’m safe
Because a black man with a mental health condition lost control and his helpless family watched him get shot by the people they called to save him from himself
“Are you safe? I heard there’s riots!”
So I put my phone away and move onto the auditory system.

My roommate flips between Fox News and CNN for irony
I flip through flashcards of labeled cadavers
Constantly confusing the coccygeus and levator ani muscles
There is a map of the United States on the television
And a white man behind a podium talks in length about its color:
Red and blue
And red and blue,
but somehow, never purple.
Numbers scroll relentlessly at the bottom of the screen
As we watch democracy live

My uber driver asks me what I think of the vaccine
I tell him I like it.
I tell him I intend to get it.
He asks me how I feel about the nanobots?
My best friend tells me her grandmother’s friend donated one million dollars to their hospital in Boca so they can be the first to get the vaccine.
As an mRNA injection threats mind control
for some,
and rivals the Birken bag as a symbol of status,
for others,
I use a pencil to complete my 800-page neuroanatomy workbook
I fill in blanks with words like “caudate” and “sagittal” and “motor”
I schedule a COVID test for before my trip home for the holidays.

I procrastinate learning the blood supply of the cerebellum
And fair skinned Americans break into the Capitol of the United States of America.

I study medicine
while the world burns.

I feel like a get-away car that is stalling outside the bank
I perch in my ivory tower cushioned by promises “in a few more years, I’ll – ”
I “tune out the background noise” of our country ripping into segregated, hateful pieces
so I can do well on the step exam.
I preserve my mental health by denying my humanity
I hold my tongue because I’ve been told to “pick my battles”
But really, I’m just letting down my peers so I can remain “likeable”
I cry after another name and another name pile up on top of each other, meaningless
Casualties of the land of freedom.

I send the world my condolences,
but I am too busy studying medicine
to attend the funeral.