Hymn for the Present (86.86)

I feel the pain; I feel the joy
I witness death and life
The rollercoaster of my work’s
The essence of my strife

Come in with joy or desolate
Then exit high or low
The sponge of me cannot soak up
This constant overflow

Will labor cause my soul to break?
Benev’lence weigh me down?
Will anguish bleed out from my heart
And drench my dressing gown?

The drum beats with a rhythm that
Invites to hum along
And nature’s presence offers up
Its own accomp’ning song

The light that she gives to my dark
Star energy, distilled
I share from my own empty cup
And find it has refilled

Connection that I forge with them
My gifts of empathy
How sweet the sound–amazing grace–
That I give back to me

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

It had been a very tough week for this OB/GYN physician, following the death of a baby she delivered. She reflected on the nature of her empathy. The sense of connection to her patients was what had drawn her to her specialty. However, her ability to experience the ups and downs of both the most joyous and most harrowing moments of patients’ lives so intensely also had its drawbacks. She was working to cope in positive ways: by playing drums in her church (“meshing music and God”), spending time with her wife and family, and connecting with nature.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Physician
Listener Poet: Yvette Perry

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