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When We Were Doctors


Jacob Holley-Kline

when we were doctors
we wore long white coats
fashionable to the ankles
stethoscopes that amplified the heart
cold to the touch like needles
syringes filled with words that heal the hurt you can't see
that hurt beneath
and on the roughest days
we mixed green and brown together
as if mother nature nestled in our rolling papers
and drew smoke from her ends
hoping she'd catch our signal
we wanted help
doctors of our own with long white coats who kept us from the fire
instead we wore braces and learned to walk alone
shifting among the shadows of the city
scarecrow-like with beliefs sewn into our chests
and it was better
to reject heaven than to accept death
and when we were children
we wore footie pajamas or no clothes at all
with teddy bears that would shed all the years we shared
the day we let them go
cups filled with juice, chilled until webs of ice wrapped around their bodies
feeling for the first time
the peace that comes with a cold drink
on a warm afternoon
and on the roughest days
we confided in the television and the sidewalk
as chip crumbs and fall leaves
crunched under our wheels in equal measure
we mixed broccoli and brownies
trying to convince mom that dessert first
is clearly the best option for our nutrition
we wanted help
other children who felt the same unnameable feelings
lurking in the dark corners of their rooms
instead we rode alone
stuffed animals held to our chest
as if the secrets to love and death were sewn into them
and it was better
to embrace the blackest edges of our vision
than to pretend we felt like just children
we were wounded at birth
pulled from comfort into a world of syringes
gloved hands and masked mouths
with white coats that look like the rain sounds
our mothers made bridges with their arms
and us
commuters of her body
rested and wailed in her comforts
soon to remember how much like god she looked
before we were told to look to the sky for her instead
years passed and one day we reached her knees
hobbling alongside her down city streets
into stores and classrooms
waving our arms like oars through the sea
sometimes it was hard to tell if our lives were moving forward
until we were tall enough to look in the mirror
studying the twists and turns of our faces with tracing fingers
the landscape of our bodies grew vast and strong
before long
others crossed our borders
and for the first time
we felt brave enough to slice open our chests
and give pieces of our hearts away
while we were wounded at birth
we found healing through life
and the scars that followed us from the womb
sunk into our skin and refused to heal
forever resting in unnameable corners
we are lost in their reaches
hands balancing on stitches
waiting for the drift of a long white coat
to see if our hearts were still beating
by the time we decided
to reach within

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Issue 3


September 22, 2017

When We Were Doctors was written by Jacob Holley-Kline. He is a writer living in Anchorage, Alaska. He has been a spoken word poet for four years, and has performed in Alaska, California, and Illinois. Jacob is also a movie critic who dabbles in acting where he can. He is currently attending the University of Alaska Anchorage pursuing a degree in English literature.

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Issue 3

This writing was originally published in Opium Magazine, and is not listed in the archives.
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