I’ve never felt so helpless–
lost confidence in myself
as a leader, like I did.
We were so afraid to get sick,
we made ourselves sick with
anxiety about getting sick.
I did what I could to keep my team
safe, but even so, I couldn’t
keep COVID from finding them.
Our community needs us. Here–
no one falls through the cracks.
Here–all are connected to care.
I’ve never felt so helpless,
but someone has to do the work,
so I, and we, keep showing up.
We’re tethered together
by commitment to community.
We’ll carry on ‘n keep caring for
our patients and for each other.
Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:
This person was a program manager for a large language access program that provided healthcare interpretation services to community members whose first language was not English. It was evident she took great pride in her work, and in her team. When COVID came, they were able to adapt quickly and provide some remote interpreting, but some of the team still needed to be on site. “I lost confidence in myself because I’ve never not had a point of reference for what I was doing as a leader,” she said. “I feel solidarity, but also fatigue. I believe we can do this, but I’m still dragging.” She told me that recently, her team had started to feel compelled to do more than just give voice as a neutral party. They wanted to be more proactive in delivering accurate vaccine information to the communities they worked with. They wanted to start to act as spokespeople for public health because they saw a need, and they know they can help.
Interviewee: Anonymous, Program Manager
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland