Emergency medicine offers a window into people’s lives at some of their most vulnerable moments. As I rush from the trauma bay to a resuscitation to an overflowing waiting room, I am no longer acutely aware of this. The raw wonder of a birth, the heart-stopping jolt of a precipitous death, the slow and measured battle against a terminal illness. Medical training has a way of numbing the nerves.
In Light through Marble Veins, I look back over ten years of medical practice to expose those nerves and examine this window. At first glance, it is a glass barrier between physician and patient. It helps me to maintain distance, so that I can decipher clues which will lead to the proper diagnosis and treatment plan. At second glance, I notice my own reflection as I peer through to the other side. Some of us are physicians, but all of us are patients.
I spent many of my formative years in New Haven, as a young medical student, a resident, and an attending. Each poem in this collection is inspired by this vibrant city and its people. Hurricanes, snowstorms, fires, coyotes, cherry blossoms, and tens of thousands of patients. It is the story of my own journey which has become inextricably linked to those of my patients.
Why write? In a world that is accelerating on its axis, where change has been reduced to a fraction of a breath, the mere swipe of a finger, poetry is my pause. It is a place where I can gently revisit the chaos of the day. Poetry and medicine go hand in hand – they demand observation, compassion, and persistence. Both are essential forms of art and communication that require careful attention to the subtle rhythms and patterns of language. The process of writing and the practice of medicine constantly remind me of the fragility of the human condition and of the enduring power of our interactions, however fleeting.
These poems explore the journey of becoming a physician. As time passes, the world morphs, but so does my vision of it. The more I practice medicine, the more I realize that this window is not a barrier but an intersection. We arrive in this shared space during a moment of crisis, to listen to the birds’ songs beneath a giant oak, to pause together, wondering and anticipating what tomorrow holds.
Pick up a copy of Light through Marble Veins here!