This is part of the Medical Humanities Series on Op-Med, which showcases creative work by our members.
I sit in front of the child in the waiting room
Who is stuck here while his mother
Is examined and questioned
He has a temporary tattoo of
The Mars rover on his left hand
And allergic shiners that I let be
He is a shy child
Smiles halfway like it is a secret
When I show him how to take his pulse
Let him try my stethoscope
Guess correctly that he is in fourth grade
He takes the turtle sticker
And the landscape one that
I had remarked was beautiful
(I think to please me)
I imagine having my own 8-year-old
How each evening I would
Curl up with him and a book
About space or engineering or
Turtles or the heart
And how if I spent my nights
With a child’s cheek resting
On my neck
More would be well with me
An Interview with the Poet
What was your inspiration? Did other creative works, if any, influence your creation of this piece?
My inspiration was this little boy, so kind, so sweet. The piece references Billy Joel’s Rocket Man, “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids, in fact it’s cold as hell, and there’s no one there to raise them if you did.”
How does this submission relate to your medical practice?
As a young woman and medical student, I think often about how my career choices have impacts on my future family and fertility. I hope to one day have my own children, which unfortunately creates conflict as I pursue a career as a physician. Women are still forced to hide their desire for children or even that they already are mothers when applying for jobs, and this poem is an attempt to oppose this idea that clinicians are worse at their jobs if they choose to have children.
Maya J. Sorini is a narrative medicine scholar, performer, medical student, and award winning poet with a background in trauma surgery research. Her first collection, The Boneheap in the Lion's Den, won the 2023 Press 53 Award for Poetry. Maya has a master's degree and has taught in Columbia University's Narrative Medicine program, and continues to work as a freelance Narrative Medicine workshop facilitator. Her work has appeared in many arts and medical journals, including JAMA, Intima Magazine, Auxocardia, and Doximity's Op-Med. Maya currently attends Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine and lives in Bergen County with her grandmother.