Pagers in the Night

Pagers in the night

Buzzing and beeping

Alarms sound through the night

Instead of sleeping

Our nervous system jolts

Like lighting bolts all night

Every so often nurses call me

Relaying vital signs and pain

Each one a stone thrown

Sending ripples through my brain

Countless as pages through the night

I know I’ll be alright, if I live to see the sunrise

Get through another night

Like I’ve done and I will do again

Sleep was just a glance away, a brief and fleeting chance away

Pulled away by pagers in the night

To My Residency

Your knowing hands

Will move me in new ways

Push, pull and shape me

Color me with glaze

I arrive to you soft and pliable

You will smooth out my flaws

Give me form that is undeniable

I willingly let you

Sculpt me as you desire

Create me as you see fit

Strengthen me with fire

I surrender to you anew every day

Take me in your knowing hands

I am your clay

Neuroscience Love

How I’d love to go walking

Through the orchard of your mind

To behold fertile neurons branching ever more intricately

In an arboretum lushly laden with sweet serotonin

My fingers search restlessly for the roots of your dopamine

My tongue drowns itself craving your acetylcholine

I long to climb your axons and shake ripe neurotransmitters

From the delicate tips of your dendritic branches

I ache to see your potential in action

To be blinded by the searing speed of your electric signal

As it sparks from node to node

To be swallowed by the violent beauty

Of vesicles fusing with your pre-synaptic membrane

How I wish to be one of your post-synaptic neurons

So that I may feel flooded by your molecules

In the electric throes of neuronal excitation

I hyperpolarize when you are near

Gripped by GABA, I am mesmerized

I’m living to see behind your eyes

Depolarize me anytime

Night Shifting

3AM:

Holding space

Just in case

You smash your face

at 3AM

I put out fires before I retire

Night song:

The day team has gone home

The bustle has simmered down

We few listen to the nightengale’s song

The dinging of hospital monitor alarms, all night long

Pink unicorn:

On inpatient pediatrics

I practice break room snack tactics

My pillaging rewards me

With a pink unicorn paper plate

Strung out:

By the time I realized that my survival skill of being high strung was making me strung out

I was half-way through medical school

Too late

Free bird:

Graduating from medical school

Leaving the shelter of my alma mater’s bosom

Flying free as a bird

Right into the glass door of residency

Anxiety:

I recognize that just like me, she is riddled with anxiety

I wonder if she has ever told anyone

I wonder if I ever will

Baby:

Baby born to today

Mom and baby are ok

How amazing. Happiness abounds.

The End:

Only at the end

Do we see clearly

What was important

Swept:

Swept up in inspiration

I catch these words

Swirling around me like fall leaves

I wonder if I will get swept away with them

Chocolate or vanilla?

The age-old question

In my advanced years, I have come to appreciate vanilla

But I’d rather ride a chocolate c— any day

What I learned in my many travels:

When you reach the beach at the end of the earth, purchase the overpriced coconut you long to drink

The Choice:

Between being a mother or being a doctor, I chose to be a doctor, though it cost me my sons and/or daughters.

My first pregnancy I called Cosmo

I sent him back out to the cosmos

My second pregnancy I called Autumn

I let her go at the first winter’s snow

Nobody knew that her skin would have been auburn

My third pregnancy I called Aurora

I still roar with pain at the loss.

I hope she will rise again.

The Moon:

Even the moon has boundaries

For a few days each month, it exists only for itself

Driving home at the end of a night shift, a faded twinkle in my tired eyes.

On the other side of the highway, commuters struggle to swim upstream

I cruise along drinking in the sunset- everybody else’s sunrise

Corona

I wear my crown of martyrdom

On the front lines, yet still at the back of the testing line- haven’t been tested

I think of you, virus, though you do not think of me

Coronavirus, on the news
Coronavirus, in my body
Is the aching in my muscles and bones your calling card?
You desire to enter my cells, virus, as much as I long to keep you out
Together, yet separately, we hunger
You want to pick my lock, use my typewriter to transcribe your RNA, then mail your enveloped self-promoting propaganda air mail special to Hadestown.
Don’t bring me down on the way, I pray
Not like this, not today
My heart breaks to think of those who have lost their lives to you, and those who needlessly will still
My head is intoxicated with fear
You always seem too near
Perhaps we Americans deserve the repercussions of our recklessness
Though it is the innocent who pay, as usual
Another day deep
I march on with trembling hands and heavy feet
Tracking invisible mud out of the wards and onto the street
Ashamed to stay in the job I was fixing to quit anyway,
Ashamed to leave now and abandon my post
The war is on, dwarfing the existential crisis of living the life I want versus fulfilling my societal obligation
I am among the minority who have a medical education
Only in following my heart can I grow up at last, no longer a slave to the judgements of others who do not bear my burden
My mind’s liberation opens up like a blue sky
Back to here and now, overcast again
In clinic and in the hospital
I struggle to bring my heart into the mundane and mission-impossible tasks which overflow from one day to the next
Virus, I gaze at your storm clouds accumulating on the horizon, and feel small
I see your silver lining, as I am well practiced in finding positivity amidst disaster
You are rich in potential
Look at the way you are uniting humanity, virus
People are taking care of themselves and each other like never before
Practicing presence in hospital hallways and supermarket aisles, smiling shyly at each other from behind our suffocating masks
We are finally being mindful of our precious resources, thinking globally and acting locally for sustainable solutions
We are cultivating more community and camaraderie than we could ever quantify
Teamwork and solidarity are weaving our spirits more closely together even as the physical distance between our bodies grows
I take a step back to take in the beauty of the tapestry you wove, virus
You bring opportunity for innovation and flexibility, you demand it
Many of us no longer take life for granted
We are cleaning our hands as often as we always should have
People are being prioritized over profits as we focus on what is essential
We settle in, acknowledging at last that we are in the same boat
Living in unspoken gratitude for each day of health
Please don’t rock my boat too much, virus
Though you are armed with cunning skills
And you may bring about more positive change still
I plan to ride out this storm, though land is not in sight
Virus, perhaps you could rest tonight?
Virus, my type II pneumocytes are mine, my lungs are a celebration of life and you are not invited
I wind-down after another day on the front lines,
I give thanks to those who are doing their part in time
To those in the comfort of your own homes,
Please stay where you are, be satisfied
Coronavirus, we will destroy you with patience and ingenuity, with solidarity and community, with soap and water, and with love for one another

Immunizations and Sun Salutations

I stand at the crossroads

Between immunizations and sun salutations
Walking the line between
East in my heart and
West in my mind
I look down at my moral compass, then up at the stars
I rest on my yoga mat
As I third-eye gaze beyond mental bars
Melting away that which keeps me confined
Letting go of that which was never mine
Opening my awareness
To the countless expressions of love
Which surround us
Including these words
Which I lovingly write for you
Immunizations and sun salutations
Are manifestations of love too
I thrive with both
I want you to know
So that you can thrive too
Because I love you