Resistance, by Iris Monica Vargas

drawing of a hand

drawing by Francesco Saverio Quatrano

This post is part of our collection of “Gold Nuggets” —  our way of alerting the medical community to original artwork, poetry or multimedia that stimulate discussion and reflection.

If you have an original piece you think would make for good discussion by the medical community, you can submit a Gold Nugget by emailing


Your hand awaits so calmly. I place
my gaze upon it like a butterfly

that’s dying, sucking slowly
the last few drops of water with its feet
as if you were a soaking sponge
they placed inside a plastic cup
– its home at the museum.

I place your hand upon my fingers. It’s not
your destiny I seek―that much is clear.

Your palm, its skin is hard, like leather on
the seat you used to occupy to read.
And it resists,

I pause, clench my teeth
and turn my head to the other side

(I whisper, not looking at your lids).
I sigh.
For how can one endure so plentiful an irony.

I hold my breath. I focus
on your hand again.
Then I undress it

and Latin blossoms from its core

Flexor pollicis longus,
Flexor pollicis brevis.
Abductor pollicis.
Flexor digitorum profundus.

This is your last caress, you know?

Discussion Questions

1. What does this poem make you think about? Which images are the most evocative for you? What feelings do you sense from the voice of the author?

2. What purpose does the use of Latin serve in the poem, and how does it change or add to the poem’s meaning?

3. Why do you think the author chose to give this poem the title “Resistance”? How does this idea of resistance resonate with you and your experience with healthcare?