Poem of the Week

Since April is National Poetry Month in the US, it is our tradition to offer a poem each week of the month to celebrate our poetry collection. Today’s poem is from Rafael Campo’s 2018 collection Comfort Measures Only. As more and more people get vaccinated and the deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19 decline, we celebrate the beauty and power of science. Check back here each Tuesday in April to read a featured poem.

cover of Comfort Measures OnlyOn the Beauty of Science

A colleague at my hospital has won
a major prize, for seminal research
into the role of lipid bodies in
the eosinophil. How I once loved
the eosinophil, its nucleus
contorted, cytoplasm flecked with red.
Of course, I wondered at its function, why
it self-destructed
on encountering
some allergen or parasitic egg, how
it killed by dying. Now we know so much
that joy in the mysterious seems quaint.
Its valentine to us undone by thought,
the blushing eosinophil explained:
embarrassed by its smallness, or enraged
that all its selflessness should be betrayed.

 

Rafael Campo teaches and practices medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and is author of several books, including Alternative MedicineThe Enemy, and Landscape with Human Figure, all also published by Duke University Press, and The Desire to Heal: A Doctor’s Education in Empathy, Identity, and Poetry.

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