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  • Susan Gallagher

Ode to a Spleen

My sister is having a Second Act.

In a brave about-face, she has left the field of elementary education after 25 years, going back to school to become a licensed surgical technologist. She's going from molding the minds of impressionable eight year-olds, to helping doctors rearrange people's insides.

My own morbid interest in people's insides has led to some interesting conversations with her. I'm always eager to hear about anatomy class--what's new with the endocrine system, or a refresher lecture on the Krebs cycle.

Anyway, she and I were both having trouble remembering exactly what our spleens were for (and who doesn't have trouble with that??) so I composed the following poem.

I give you "Ode to a Spleen".

We're in awe of the heart

of the liver and brain

And yet where are you, spleen

in our gutsy refrain?

Colored ribbons for breasts

for our colons, too

The former are pink

and the latter are blue

No awareness of you, spleen

Why? I know the answer

It's the thanks that you get

for not giving us cancer

"They're glorified lymph nodes!

Cut 'em out, you won't miss 'em!"

And yet they are key

to our immune system

Not paired like a kidney

an eyeball or lung

The spleen looks like a red beet

that's shaped like a tongue

It gets rid of old blood cells

helps fight off infection

Unsung hero the spleen

it deserves our affection

So consider your insides

which parts you like best

And remember that spleen

in your upper left chest


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