by Priya Misra •
As medical students we have the privilege and the burden of witnessing human suffering, death, healing, and humanity on a daily basis. Regardless of our will and fortitude it is natural, and in some ways beneficial, that many of these experiences leak into our subconscious and infiltrate our emotions. Our decision then becomes whether or not we recognize the distress amongst our emotions and embrace it in the hope of becoming grounded and empathetic physicians. Personally, I believe that reflection is key in this journey to self-awareness and development. Poetry and personal narrative are my own feeble attempts at untangling the confusion and emotional burden that stems from my experiences on the floors. If left unexamined those burdens threaten my growth as a physician. I can only hope that my writing will encourage my peers to embark on their own journeys of reflection, awareness, and humility.
Winter seems endless. Incurable.
Light is sparse, darkness abundant,
And the disease as cold as the snow outside.
Warm humidified breath is
Replaced by icy harsh wind.
It slaps your face like the prognosis
That the tumor has resurfaced.
Still, melting snow gives rise to hope—
Resurrected from the depths of icy despair and
Slushy salt stained roads—
Hope that highlights happiness
In blooming tulip buds, clear skies, and winter coats
Abandoned to the back of closets.
And one day when you least expect it,
A miraculous act of divine mercy,
The Sun too returns, ripping off your covers and
Kissing your wounds with its warm embrace.
It comes with memories
Of open windows, hair blowing in the wind,
Songs of summer love and short skirts.
Spring is the food I take with my medication,
It is the light at the end of my tunnel,
Reassurance that the end is near.
A Fool’s Guide to Grief
I sit here contemplating death.
And the foolish notion
That I could possibly capture in one poem
What thousands before me have tried to say.
All that I know is fear:
The frightening possibility
That life only exists as a series of
Chemistries and hormones, now immobile.
How can I stare Him in the eyes
And walk away unscathed each time?
Ingrained in my training is the theory
That acceptance leads to apathy
And so I’m left to dread its toll,
The jaded nature it births through oblivion.
What a grotesque thought
To wish I could have experienced more loss,
Maybe it would prepare me for Death’s arrival.
Bringing order to the inexplicable,
Maybe I could find the
Formula of how to grieve and grow.
They say, “Death is a part of life,”
But I will never find comfort in this paradox
That losing life is cornerstone to living.
So I surrender myself to death,
To my fear of the end,
To my confusion on coping,
To my failure at acceptance.