Caregiver, Care For Yourself

You have come here to help others
and yet it has been a year of
unrelenting work
Your chest tight, tired, heart hungry for touch.

We were born to engage
but can you embrace
and be held through a screen?

Here, here are the tools:
ancient and intimate as a whisper
known in every mindful moment.

Rise, take your precious body
and walk,
race back to yourself.
Rise, taste hope in another’s eyes.

Here is the first patient.
Caregiver, care for yourself.
Listen, you are here, you are held in hope,
made whole in a moment of awareness and connection.

You asked to serve, to heal others,
but you were swallowed by a pandemic
and in the fearful dark
you leaned to breathe, to wait,
to trust, and believe.

Caregiver, care for yourself.

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

He’d been a professor of Integrative Physiology for 37 years.. He brought the tools of mindfulness and self-care to medical students, many of whom had been studying 10 hours a day, day after day, in isolation for the past year. He integrated poetry into the curriculum by offering the students one of his favorite poems by the Sufi poet, Hazrat Inayat Khan. “I asked for strength…,” it began. I wondered what he would ask for? “To travel to the furthest point away from here,” he replied. Pre-pandemic, he had been an international speaker, traveling the world 110 days out of the year.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Professor
Listener Poet: Elizabeth Pringle

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