before she sleeps
she tenderly tucks in
each hidden story,
each unshared secret,
each ask for a hug
with the love
of a mother
and the endearment
of a soul
who has discovered
a piece of herself
in another

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

“When you get to hear the hidden sides of people’s stories, you never look at people the same,” she said, with a noticeable tenderness in her voice. This woman was a therapist who supported physicians and residents. “Sometimes as I lay in bed at night I inhabit the stories people share with me. It’s almost like a mother tucking her children in at night, endeared to some of the people I talk with who don’t always get to express their humanity in their work,” she said. She went on to talk about the “hidden curriculum” in medicine, which is a set of unspoken rules for medical professionals: always be objective, don’t appear weak, don’t cry in front of patients, you’re never sick, don’t ask for help, don’t let anyone know anything personal. “I’ve been working hard to change this culture because doctors deserve to be real people,” she said. “Seeing the hidden side of providers is a sacred experience. My ears hear so many secrets and so much that people barely dare to give utterance to elsewhere. To embrace these realities as my life’s work is the most amazing gift I can think of.”

Interviewee: Anonymous, Staff
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

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