Back then, my diploma parchment ink still
wet, the Samoan isle of nine hundred
was all mine to serve. And my dream was made.

After and ever since, the dream simmered.
Oh! To explore cultures not my own! To
be more than a tourist or guest doctor!
To get to know many peoples and lands!

Cooking just below boil for forty years,
how will this dream, for so long delayed, taste?
Like saffron and fennel seed? Tamarind,
cumin, clove? Sweet on the tip of my tongue?

Now, parchment, ink long dried, is packed away.
The job was well-done. The kids were well-raised.
My dream is well-earned. My appetite, whet.

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

Fresh from just one year of training after getting his medical degree, this physician traveled to an island in the South Pacific to practice general medicine for a year. He noted that most of his fellow doctors were either like him–at the start of their careers, or they were retired. Four decades later and semi-retired himself, he was planning to realize his dream to travel to India to do public health work and become, as he noted, “more than a tourist.” The pandemic had put discussions of those plans on hold but he was ready to start again.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Physician
Listener Poet: Yvette Perry

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