Alive, Alone

By Sara Parke

Editor’s note: In her time in a neonatal Intensive care unit,  medical student Sara Parke encountered a premature infant with congenital abnormalities. The girl’s young mother requested that the baby be resuscitated, then abandoned her to the care of the state. Parke, who describes herself as “intrigued by the ways in which creative projects can help with healing and prevent physician burnout,” captured her reaction in a poem. The title is a reference to Emily Dickinson’s “I Have a Bird in Spring,” the last line a nod to Dickinson’s poem “Hope.”  Parke, a second-year medical student, is from Littleton, Colo. She received a BA in human biology from Stanford University and studied bioethics on a Fulbright Scholarship.


Bird in Spring


I whisper her name

From Latin:

one worthy of love

She hears me.

Two babyblues flicker

open  / shut /   o  p  e  n

Alive. Alone

(I feel the weight of it)

Whose face will interpret mine?

Whose eye will hold me light and near?

Whose mouth will taste my honeyed tear?

Don’t worry, baby —

   Out here, we are all alone.

•    •    •

The vernix of an early labor

lingers on translucent skin

skiff of ice, scarlet grooves

Behind a blue mask


tender coos

fall like  s





warm and safe

Hope is a thing with feathers.


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