This is part of the Medical Humanities Series on Op-Med, which showcases creative work by our members. Do you have a poem, short story, creative nonfiction or visual art piece related to medicine that you’d like to share with the community? Send it to us here.
perhaps the light sits heavier
on mountains p>
perhaps all that open
can feel too full p>
perhaps that is why
you won't make the climb p>
when there is shade
by the sweet-blooming
and you say
you still see
the same sunset
down there p>
What inspired this piece?
I think it's easy for people to think their work is 'done' once they've acknowledged an inequality, but that is where the work begins. To be able to move on from that is to not recognize your own privilege.
Why did you choose this form?
I wanted to feel the heaviness of the words, building on one another until you've reached the bottom. Hopefully the spacing helps to accomplish that.
How long have you been writing poetry? How does it inform your medical practice?
Only a handful of months — I discovered this great community of poets on Twitter — but I wouldn't say that I 'write poetry' per se, because I'm still trying to figure out what my voice is. I see it as a way of engaging a part of my brain that wants to reach out to the rest of the world, commune with it, be with it in some way. I think that in medicine, more often than we want to admit, we forget about making that kind of connection with others.
Anything else you'd like to share on racial justice in medicine? Or the creative arts in medicine?
I think now more than ever we need to remember why we're here, that our voices are primed to be heard, and that it is not only our privilege but our responsibility to use them: to advocate for others; to challenge people to think more critically; and to hold our own biases accountable, too.
Nina is an assistant professor of pediatrics in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. She is earning her M.S. in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University, so that she may strengthen her voice on social justice issues and better advocate for her patients and their families. In her free time, she reads and writes small poems, which can be found on her Twitter @ninahuMD.
Illustration by Jennifer Bogartz