CERROS | Laura G. Goetz


When her well-worn fingers rummage in

Her well-worn bag for her 45 medication allergies,

I expect the emergence of a list,

Not the porcelain preschooler’s teacup—

A less-exclusive Noah’s Ark of pills,

Filled to the brim

From the tiniest tablets to large enough for livestock

Orange, white, blue,

Contained by a liberally-applied lid of grimy, once clear tape.

As she carefully places it in my hands,

Her eyes, bursting with pride for taking control of this one small piece of her life,

Blur through the prisms building up behind my lashes,

And I’m grateful for my glasses.

But not as grateful as I am for the summers I’ve spent speaking Spanish with

Toothless campesinos,

As she launches back into her rapid ramble about

Her arms becoming hot air balloons and the

Dozens of doctors who have tried to kill her this year,

With intermittent insistent interjections that I,

La Dra. Gutierrez,

Am Puerto Rican


I finally give up on taking her full medical history,

Understanding there is very little I can do for her.

Yet, too deaf for phone translation,

I wonder when she last felt heard.

And when she kisses my cheek before bounding out,

I hear an echo with each footfall down the hall,





Laura G. Goetz is an overly enthusiastic medical student (at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons), writer, photographer, runner, and research dork, with a penchant for cooking without recipes and referencing Audre Lorde, Donna Haraway, and Buffy. Her goal (as both an artist and a doctor-in-training) is to help people feel seen. Her prior training includes an MS in transgender hormone therapy and BS in biochemistry and gender studies, focusing on interdisciplinary scientific research informed by individual embodied experiences. More of her poetry and photography can be found in SIREN, Vitality, Broad Recognition, La Madrugada, and Reflexions magazines, and at lauragouldgoetz.bandcamp.com and @lauragouldgoetz.