— NARRATIVE ESSAYS —

Symbiosis

Colleen T. Fogarty, MD, MSc | Heidi Zinkand, MD

Fam Med. 2022;54(5):398-398.

DOI: 10.22454/FamMed.2022.308891

Writing is, for many of us, a way to process what we experience, both our medical careers and other aspects of our lives. Sometimes we are bearing witness, sometimes we are in the thick of it. While we were preparing for a local reading of our work, Dr Zinkand and I were sharing our poetry, and discovered that we had each written a poem in response to the death of a beloved colleague several years previously. Upon further discussion, we realized we’d written these poems nearly simultaneously. Each poem has its own viewpoint, each can stand alone, but they are, we believe, symbiotic, and so we choose to publish them together.

Out of Office

May 29, 2013
Out of Office:
Thank you for your email. 
I am out of the office and 
will not return until further notice.
Regards,
Susan Lee

Months go by
She’s in the hospital
Out again
In again
Home again
Reports are few: 
The news isn’t ever good

November 6, 2013
She’s gone
We all mourn

November 8, 2013
I peruse 
the clinician directory
Lee, Anna
Lee, Susan
Lee, YaLi
Her name continues in the list.

November 12, 2013
I again look, 
this time for Dr YaLi Lee.

Susan’s name has disappeared.

Susan, November 7

I wake
with an awareness of grief
momentarily unattached--

Stillness surrounds me,
weighs down,
drowns me.

She was with me in my dream.
Can I return to sleep
before the darkness claims her,
names her death?
Autumn dawns slowly
sends rays of light
across the bedroom ceiling.

A single bird
tentatively greets the day
in song

Lead Author

Colleen T. Fogarty, MD, MSc

Affiliations: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY

Co-Authors

Heidi Zinkand, MD - University of Rochester, Department of Family Medicine, Jordan Health, Brown Square Health Center

Corresponding Author

Colleen T. Fogarty, MD, MSc

Correspondence: Highland Family Medicine, 777 South Clinton Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620. 585-279-4749. Fax: 585-442-8319.

Email: Colleen_fogarty@urmc.rochester.edu

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