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"Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking," English poet John Barrington Wain wrote. Come dance, then, with a pair of physicians on the Dartmouth faculty as they wrap the day-to-day realities of their work in lyrical metaphor.
The Books I Read
By Jonathan M. Ross, M.D.
My office door is like the cover of a Book:
Open it, and anticipation yields
to the unexpected.
He, or she, or they, sit,
expectant, hopeful, and I
breathe in an expression, the clothes and odor, and
sense the fear, concerns, or anger.
Some are guarded and some smile broadly,
to reconnect in trust.
Others appraise, ready to proclaim
steeling themselves for the disappointment
they have come to expect.
Often, as I listen,
an expression softens, I can almost hear a
so relieved to have a story aired.
They see a doctor and I see a patient,
and mostly the boundaries stay lucid.
I ask, they struggle to answer,
not knowing my language.
At times I don't speak theirs.
Tugging here or there,
the tale is enriched, the story blossoms.
I am blessed with their trust, and
invited into recesses where
no one has yet peered, and
I think nothing of the risks they take in telling me.
Yes, I think nothing of the risks they take in telling me.
My hands probe flesh and form and function.
Sometimes, I focus hard on the heart murmur,
or feel only the liver, pulse, breast or prostate, and
lose connection with the person.
Sometimes, I think in the language of physiology,
linking that which lurks
beneath my fingertips with knowledge learned years ago,
Sometimes, as I feel the nodule
that doesn't belong,
I know, in an instant,
a range of futures unfolding,
exposed, on the table.
We call them encounters,
extraordinary connections, miracles,
that allow us, clad in white,
the stories in these Books.
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