The hospital gown is medicine’s equalizer.

No matter the wearer…

overweight, cellulitic diabetics

tachypneic pregnant women puffing forth new life

wide-eyed children breathing through an anesthesia mask…

all rendered into one

shapeless, ill-fitting smock.

Modesty

preserved by the garment of flimsy, patterned fabric,

sometimes by two in those with posteriors left bare by one stingy cloth.

Thus outfitted

shuffling in tread-treated socks

clinging to an IV pole for stability with one hand

gathering up the ample folds yawning apart at the seams in the other,

while scooting onto a stretcher en route to surgery.

Those too weak remain in bed

listlessly lying amid a tussle of sheets, blankets, of which the hospital gown becomes one of many layers.

The seemingly healthy defy this aura of illness,

but even the most robust bodybuilder’s biceps seem a little more attenuated...

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