They work with herbs
They work with gentleness
and the scalpel.
They dig out the cancer,
close an incision
and say a prayer
to the poverty of the skin.
…they are only human
trying to fix up a human.
Many humans die.
But all along the doctors remember:
First do no harm.
They would kiss if it would heal.
It would not heal.
If the doctors cure
then the sun sees it.
If the doctors kill
then the earth hides it.
The doctors should fear arrogance
more than cardiac arrest.
If they are too proud,
and some are,
then they leave home on horseback
but God returns them on foot.
~Anne Sexton “Doctors” from The Awful Rowing Toward God.
Let me not forget how humbling it is
to provide care for a hurting person
and not be certain that what I suggest
will actually work,
to be trusted to recommend the best option
including tincture of time,
wait and see,
try this or that.
Like other physicians who tumble off
at a full gallop, having lost balance
between confidence and humility,
I sometimes find myself unseated and unsettled,
returning on foot to try again to make a difference.