Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Upon viewing Félix Vallotton’s La Malade

Lois Leveen
Portland, Oregon, United States


La Malade (1892) by Félix Vallotton

The sick girl turns her back to me
The maid won’t meet my eye
The near-bare walls hold one dim print
The chair sits crookedly

The medicines are kept bedside
The table can expand
That’s how we all know what’s unsaid—
More medicines to come

And yet the shock of salmon red
Calls from the drab and dreary bed
As though the ample comforter
Insists on having its place here






LOIS LEVEEN, PhD, writes and teaches about the medical humanities, creating opportunities for reflection and connection among health care practitioners, patients, and families. Her poetry has appeared in Ars Medica, Bridges, Cloud Bank, Culinate, Hawai’i Pacific Review, and Monkey Puzzle, and is engraved on the wall of an Oregon hospital. Her prose has appeared in/on The Atlantic, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Review of Books, NPR, The New York Times, Permanente Journal, and The Wall Street Journal. The author of the novels Juliet’s Nurse and The Secrets of Mary Bowser, she is currently working on a chapbook of poems about open heart surgery.


Spring 2018  |  Sections  |  Poetry

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