Pruning and Yardsticks

Sometimes life has to
cut through something
that isn’t entirely dead
in order to help it heal
and grow to new heights

Her pruning wasn’t like
the rest because life knew
she was like bamboo, and
wouldn’t regrow from the cut–
she’d grow back from the base

(when she realized this,
she knew her next yardstick
could never be made of wood)

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

“I’d like my poem to be about resilience and reinvention,” she began. “These are the things I’m most proud of about myself.” After being traumatized and then publicly fired from a high-profile job in academia, she was forced to reinvent herself. Coming from a family who already valued these things, it had been easier; her mother had reinvented herself on multiple occasions. “What I learned is that it’s critical not to have a life that’s monolithic and tied only to a role. I need other interests and people to support me, so that I can have enough internal reserve to rebuild,” she said. She shared that she just accepted a new executive leadership position and was preparing to move to a new institution. “What allowed me to do this is the experience of having survived what I did. If I hadn’t been fired and gone through that trauma, I wouldn’t have grown to the heights I have grown,” she said. She went on to share that her father was a giant in the field of medicine. Now that she was no longer living in his shadow, she was having to redefine the yardstick she measured herself by.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Physician
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

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