“I could prescribe any of a dozen antibiotics to cure
endocarditis, or even a thrombolytic agent
to stave off a heart attack; but what I
yearned for was the elixir of poetry,
which could heal the otherwise
untreatable condition of
my broken heart.”
This quote, by poet and physician Rafael Campo*,
beautifully captures the essence of the union
between the arts…and the art of medicine.
Therefore, today I will let him speak for me.
This is from his poem What the Body Told:
“To somewhere distant in my heart, they cry.
I look inside their other-person’s mouths
And see the wet interior of souls.
It’s warm and red in there–like love, with teeth.
I’ve studied medicine until I cried.”
*Rafael Campo is an internal medicine physician and poet currently on faculty at Harvard.
• • •
A few bloggers I would like to ask to share a quote or two:
Rules of the Quote Challenge:
1-Post on three consecutive days.
2-You can pick one or three quotes per day.
3-Challenge three different bloggers per day.
She stands facing a closed door.
As her gaze converges onto
enameled surface, she notes its
texture- the evenness a comfort to
a moment of hesitation within.
Smooth and finished–flowing
imprints mapping the course of
fine fibers swept over timber.
She makes a move to knock,
but her hand pauses,
and for a moment she wonders
whether you will find her pleasant.
Whether she will be worthy of your trust.
Whether you will believe in her.
Because she is flawed.
Like veneer upon wooden door, she
is but a polished version of herself.
As she again surveys its exterior,
she is let in upon a different truth–
that from underneath the surface
the grain peeks through, coarse
and jagged, its valleys exposed,
blemish revealed, age betrayed.
It is but fresh lacquer upon a
damaged interior, eroded and
frayed by the stress of time.
Like a white coat to the skin,
it cloaks the imperfection
and vulnerability of that
which lies beneath.
A coat enshrouding
scars of personal defeats–
of critical introspection while
striving to exhibit confidence and certainty.
to remain objective while
craving to empathize with you.
to continue feeling through perpetual
immersion into death and suffering,
while self-preservation casts increasingly
impenetrable layers of emotional shield.
And a fear
of not doing enough, while similarly
recognizing the peril of doing too much.
But as her knuckles meet the door,
she is reminded of an oath–taken
at the dawn of this journey–
an oath of compassion, of
integrity, of humility–
an oath to do no harm.
So as she enters
for she never forgot its
That one would never lose the joy of helping others.
Therefore as an imperfect human being,
she will do her best to ease your suffering,
treat your illness, be your advocate–
Not because it is her obligation,
but because this is her love–
To help her fellow man.
To care for you.
• • •
“…may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”
-Oath of Hippocrates
• • •
A cardiac arrest. A resuscitation made. A life recovered.
One patient tells me his experience.
This is his story.
Amid the chaos enclosing,
beseeched by an ambiance of ages to come,
I hear the seraph’s dulcet calls.
Immured by words
divine and bittersweet,
they sculpt the frigid air,
and I am comforted.
As flesh is pierced, poisons forced,
I am held in tender embrace–
its whispers an oasis to the fears
that boil within my breast.
A skyward calling, its promised hope
glistens the starlight above me.
Memories, regret, longings and dreams–
a cycle ripened to revolve anew
cascades within my being.
I then behold a fleeting sight–
a son, wife, a father, my life–
their love commanding,
with a strength untold
until with the sun
I am ushered
out of the grasp
of the ebbing eve.
I open my eyes.
• • •
• • •
Lines, tubes, wires, chains.
Dignity stripped, cavities drained.
The metronome of your pulse above
the beeping orchestra, dissonant buzz.
Each gesture tracked, beat recorded,
breathing measured, life distorted.
Do you still feel free?
The body, its function a masterpiece to muse,
altered by poison, fluid infused.
Vesicles, vessels, organs affixed,
shrouded in blood, lymph intermixed.
Adhered in oneness by tendon and skin,
scarcely quickened by a pump grown dim.
Do you still feel strong?
Risen before the dawning sun,
a swarm of stoic white has come
to declare the status of your issues–
Liver, kidney, heart, lung, tissue.
To examine and prod, inspect then move
a person, a soul, or a number to improve?
I hope you still feel human.