The Forest

Student Voice

Reilly Quist 

(October 2020) standing here
with your lungs
held in my hands
dissected out
primary, secondary, tertiary bronchi
I finally feel you here

I took and took
each layer of
skin, muscle, vessels, nerves
to build a map
in my head

but each step
made you smaller and smaller
until almost nothing
was left

to take and take
with no way
to give anything back
this is not me
I don’t want to feel you here

until
holding your lungs
I began to see
tree roots
and a trunk

and then I realized
you are my giving tree
selflessly showing me
the inside of
every patient I’ll see

I breathe in
and out easily
for the first time
in many weeks

when I hear
my first heart murmur
it’s your heart
I imagine
grounding me

when I receive
my first patient hug
it’s also your arms
around me

these days
I seem to feel you
everywhere
the one who helped me
see the forest
through the trees


Reilly Quist

Reilly Quist is a student in the CU SOM Class of 2022. After being diagnosed with hip dysplasia and undergoing surgery midway through medical school, she began writing poetry to help navigate both experiences in medicine. She grew up in in Delta, Colo., and is passionate about rural primary care. Her poem was published in The Human Touch, an annual anthology of poetry, prose, photography, and graphic art by the Anschutz Medical Campus community.