Dancing with a Monkey on a Beach

How can it be?
That even after I told one patient
…..he was dying,
he held and kissed my hand?

Or another terminal patient who
told me he wants to dance
with a monkey on a beach.
He and his wife, laughing,
because they know they won’t
have much more time together.
Before I sedate him,
……I draw a monkey on his foot.

The patient who survives
a terrible accident,
then learns her daughter did not.
Developed broken heart syndrome.
We share pictures of our daughters
who look alike, share the same name.
We’re still in touch.

What is it?
……That amazing power
……….of the human spirit?

How can it be
……that I’m in my dream job?

….I can’t explain
these moments of mystery.

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

Her journey to medicine began when she took care of her father who died of cancer when she was 11 years old. For her, medicine was a calling, not a job. Her moments with patients and the amazing power of the human spirit made her want to keep coming back. As a dean and a clinician, she believed that compassion, empathy, meaning, and purpose should be at the center of medical education.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Physician, Vice Dean for Medical Education
Listener Poet: Katherine Gekker

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