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Brought to you by the students of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

Benjamin Cox


I’m not sure if you want to know this, but you are my first patient.  

I met you in the laboratory room, on a cold metal table.

I know it’s probably uncomfortable; I’d hate to be lying there myself.  

I have to admit, I’m a bit nervous.

I know that I know nothing, and I know I need to learn.  

You’ll help me, won’t you?

I suppose we don’t have time for small talk, so let’s get right to business.  

I open up my book and set it by the table,

so I can learn the names of all the things you’ll show me.  

These names are cumbersome, Latin and Greek I’m told.

We stutter through them together.  

We plow through the pages of the anatomy book in our game of show and tell,

until I realize that hours have gone by, and I do not even know your name.  

I do not know what brought you here, what friends and family you left behind,

or what you did with this body before giving it to me.  


Yes, you have given your body to me, or lent it anyway,

and I wonder what right I have, a passing stranger,

to learn the secrets of how you were knit together?  

But then, I suppose, we are not really strangers, are we?  

You are my patient. My first patient.  

And though I cannot help you, you have helped me,

and with you, I will one day help many others.  

I’m just a second year medical student and I know that I know nothing,

but I suspect we’ll see each other again, and when we do, I’ll say thank you.








Cadaver memorial:

"To my first patient"

About the Author:


Benjamin Cox is a second year medical student at UC.  This piece is the transcription of a speech he gave at the anual Cadaver Memorial Service held in Kresge Auditorium on October 5, 2013



About the artwork:


"Anatomy of a Woman's Spine"

is an 18th century piece by French Artist Jacques Gautier d'Agoty.  He was known for his mezzotints of anatomical figures that were somewhat controversial for his era.




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