Beyond the Fence

Most days, I have faith
there’ll be a path around
the fence, but today I feel
face-against-fence hopeless.

I’m interested in serving
people, not patients.

In today’s environment
there’s no way to measure
being a better people doctor.

There’s nothing I regret
about the path I’ve taken,
but what academic medicine
tells me I need to be
no longer interests me.

My soul doesn’t grow
by doing randomized
control trials.

My heart doesn’t heal
by publishing essays–
no amount is ever enough.

What’s calling me now?
The craft of creative expression,
heart and soul expansion.

Perhaps the fence is forcing
me to rest–to trust I’ll wake
when I’m ready for the journey…

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

“In the past, I always thought I needed to do more research; to move the science forward,” she said. “But now my heart really lies in the arts, humanities, poetry, creative writing. It feeds my soul and expands my heart–you can’t ignore that!” She was a physician specialist with a successful career. She realized she was nearing the end of one path and coming to the start of another, though she couldn’t yet see where it would lead. “For so long, my self-worth came from publishing; from doing what could be measured. I want to find meaning internally; to grow my heart and soul,” she said. “How much longer should I stay and invest? How do I know when it’s time to let go?” As she spoke, she continually gestured her hands toward her own heart. “Most days I have faith this path will open to a new one–the right one–but today, I don’t,” she said. She wanted the poem to remind her that despite her doubt, in medicine there was no such thing as enough, and there was value in this alternative path because her heart was clearly calling her there.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Physician
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

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