A Medical Student
by Luiza Oleszczuk

When his mother tells him on the phone “When you were little,
I wanted to kill you in your sleep.  I wanted to push the pillow
against the gasping dark hole of your mouth,” he goes back
to the anatomy class.  He grabs the scalpel and makes a deep cut.
First careful, but then, before he notices, he is stabbing the livid
flesh.  He parts the blue, white, yellow layers of skin and fat.  He
glares deep inside, and then he stabs again.  Harder.  He digs deeper;
puts his hands inside; he feels the intestines between his fingers,
squeezes, pats them.  He remembers the feeling he had growing up—
something.  Something within.  There was something beneath the skin.
Desperate now, he puts his head inside the hole in the ex-man’s
stomach.  He strikes a match.  He walks through it like through a cave.
But he already knows—it’s dark and cold and dead, and he gets cold
too.  So he gets out, cleans up.  He picks up his tools.  And then he thinks
there is this brief moment when the lights blink.  But they do not.
He turns them off.  He closes the door behind.

by Luiza Oleszczuk

Once, at school, my grandmother opened the sandwich her mother
made for her, and in between the two white slices of bread there was
nothing except for a milk skin.

So she pondered the sandwich for a moment, then closed her eyes,
took a bite and started chewing. That is how she discovered
the first big treasure of girls—
the imaginary world.


Luiza Oleszczuk has a BA degree in Creative Writing and Media
Studies from CUNY Hunter College.  She is now starting an MFA
program at St. Andrews University.  Born and raised in Poland, she
lived in New York City from 2005 to 2009 and is planning to return
there after the program in Scotland.  This is her first poetry
publication since a young adults’ poetry contest in the 6th grade.

On “A Medical Student”:
As a person loving both poetry and fiction I spent a lot of time
trying to understand the mechanisms driving each genre.  The
deeper I dug into it, the more certain I became that trying to
separate them will only bring me to insanity, and my poem, “A
Medical Student,” is a perfect example since it was written as a
paragraph of a short story, which then started to live its own
life.  I think that at some point I stopped trying to see the
boundary between prose and poetry, since I have read the most
beautiful “poems” in stories such as those of Borges.  But the
thing I love about prose poetry is that it joins all that’s casual
and stylistically pleasing in prose (in English language,
specifically), and that is disquieting, mysterious and
“unfinished” in poetry (which I understand as the quality of
rather something that is lacking than what is visibly there).

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 4, Number 2
(Fall 2009)

Copyright © 2009
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.

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