Anatomy Lab

Robbert Hippen, MD

Summer 2001 - Volume 5 Number 3


His name was Luther,
at least, that is
what we called him.
We chose him
because he was
slender and lay
next to an
open window.
Why did he donate
himself to our
awkward probing,
the sophomoric pranks?
Or didn’t he know?
His body was
our textbook.
Was he a loner,
or did he have
family? Did he
work with his
hands, or languish
in prison or asylum?
Was he loved?
What were his longings?
We never even knew
how he died.
As in slumber
he lay, object
of our novice
trespass, and
with dignity bore
his defacement.
Forgive us,
dear father,
reform your
sons and daughters.
Hear us now,
famous warrior,
with those lifeless
ears, with sightless
eyes, see us in
the miasma of our
mid-life careers.
We know now
your sacrifice
cannot be repaid.
Your formaldehyde-
soaked fingers
will forever linger
in our minds,
as we administer
your teachings
to the dying
and the damned.
How well you
taught your
children, in
the anatomy
lab of memory.


27,000 print readers per quarter, 9,725 eTOC readers, and in 2016, 1.4 million page views on TPJ articles in PubMed from a broad international readership.

The Permanente Press

Sponsored by the National Permanente Medical Groups, The Permanente Press publishes The Permanente Journal and books related to Kaiser Permanente and health care.


Articles, editorials, letters to the editor, and other material represent the opinion of the authors. Send your comments to

Copyright 2017 Kaiser Permanente - The Permanente Journal. All Rights Reserved.