..... poetry .....



"On Call"

It would be laughable, if not true,
How much my little DNA sequence
    has always wanted to just drop into its groove
    and sit very contentedly in my body.
Every step of the way 
    my attempts to resist the power of my genetic code
    seemed admirable, occasionally helpful,
    but mostly futile.
“Oh, now I understand!”
    my first college girlfriend exclaimed 
    after meeting my Father.

I remember asking my Mother when Dad usually had dessert.
“Like clockwork—
    right before a hot shower and bed.”
I smiled.

When I was much younger, a family friend asked,
“And what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“NOT a doctor,” I immediately replied.
“Why in heaven not?  It’s such an exciting profession.”
“And be On Call and woken up in the middle of the night,
    night after night, like my Dad? 
    No thanks.”

It would be laughable, if not true,
    to notice how much I turned out 
    just like my ever-diligent Dad,
Despite my best efforts to be my own boss,
    fulfill my own vision, and   
    preserve my precious sleep.

On Call: available 24/7 to make 
                  Life and Death decisions.

Or maybe,
    just nostalgia for those Glory Days of medical school,
    when temporary dementia was encouraged
    to entertain the faculty, who
    merely missed The War.

So, what would you call—
    coming out of a concert  
        and hearing your own band play a new piece
        through your feet? 
    seeing birds circle overhead  
        and writing a poem about their wisdom?
    listening to Dr. King 
        and knowing he wanted part of his speech set to music?
    hearing a quip that your partner made about cheese 
        and turning that into a spy thriller?

Many people see, hear, and experience things that 
    inspire them.
They may talk with a friend about the moment that
    called forth their Spirit.
Some may even begin a song, a painting, a poem, or a dance
    about that moment.

When you’re On Call, 
    you don’t just leave the patient with a diagnosis—
    you take them through the whole process of getting well.
It may be quick, or more often,
    take many twists and turns,
But the song, painting, poem, or dance does get completed.
It is not left to languish in an empty hospital ward.

Your piece may refuse to reveal itself—
    better suspend your expectations.
Your piece may demand more mastery—
    time to seek guidance from the wise.
Your piece may call forth a larger vision—
   you'll need to investigate unfamiliar traditions and artists.

It would be laughable, if not true,
    to realize how thoroughly I’ve embraced being
    On Call.

   “There is beauty everywhere,
        but few can see it.” (the sage said)

         “There is humor everywhere,
              but few are smiling.” (the sage thought)

                  “There is inspiration everywhere,
                        but few reveal it.” (the sage knew)

December 2010


©2010, Michael Smolens