Tanya Magana

Artist Statement:

I wrote about an experience I had while rotating in a dermatology clinic from two different points of view. During the encounter, I observed a patient undergo a skin biopsy to confirm nonmalignant skin cancer. The patient was very afraid. He had an exchange with his wife who was in the room, and they spoke in Spanish. They were not clear about his diagnosis. All they understood was that he had cancer. I stepped in, letting them know I spoke Spanish and would like to help answer their questions by translating. A huge sense of relief washed over them which is something I will not forget. In “The Interpreting Moth”, I wrote from my perspective as the medical student portrayed as an “observing moth.” I chose a moth because, just like medical students, they are typically not wanted in the room even though they are not bothering anyone. In the end, the medical student translates for the patient, and he has “untwisting of his tongue” because he can finally ask his questions and “untwisting of his false beliefs” because he no longer believes he will die from this diagnosis. Lastly, I wrote the poem in an unrhythmic manner to represent the chaos in the room in the beginning. When the crowd disappears, I change the writing to a more rhythmic flow to represent the tranquility after the crowd leaves and everything falls into place.

Tanya Magana, University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford, Class of 2022

The Interpreting Moth

Slipping in quietly, I am the unwanted moth
Nestled in safely between the corner of two walls
Their brown eyes dart at me to shoo me away
Stay in your corner, stay out of everyone’s way

The man’s hair is gray
Silent, the center of attention
He’s new to this room
He doesn’t want to stay

He let the lesion appear,
Form roots.
Build a home on his leg

The crowd arrives
Blades in hands

His face sinks beneath the crowd
His boots float to the surface of the bed
They tell a tale
Of fear and despair

The crowd disappears.
Takes their weapons away

I flutter over, steer my wings out to land on his leg
Untwisting his tongue and untwisting his beliefs
Providing relief, he couldn’t find when he was beneath

He cups me in his hands and whispers
Without words
Using his eyes
Me salvaste