What I Am

Beatrice Preti is an R2 in internal medicine at the Queen's University.

 

It was a childhood dream, one that I loved well,

A fairy-tale story I’d heard someone tell

I replayed it at nights, as I lay in my bed

While visions of stethoscopes danced ins my head

White coats beat tiaras at dolls’ dress-up games

And I referred to bacteria by their scientific names

It was a future of which I never stopped dreaming

Planning and plotting and aiming and scheming

I mapped my whole life with this solitary goal

Paying no heed to the impending toll

 

And then I was there, in that place I’d dreamt of,

Doing the work I’d envied and loved

But the road of success was uneven at first

I made mistakes that made patients worse

I didn’t know the right doses or the numbers or meds

So I crammed all the knowledge that I could in my head

I tried doing my best, but it wasn’t enough,

And the stress showed through when times got tough

I remember a case with a man who couldn’t hear

So I leant closer to him and said loudly in his ear,

“What is your name, Sir? Why have you come?”

But he remained mute, and to instinct I succumbed.

I shouted, “WHO ARE YOU, SIR? WHY ARE YOU HERE?”

Much to the amusement of all who could hear

I can’t quite remember what happened to him

Only that the prognosis was guarded, and the outcome was grim

But the questions resounded time after time

My friends found it funny, a well-intentioned crime

Posing him questions that he couldn’t hear

Even though my motive were straight and sincere

Yet the question returned in more ways than one

A reminder of the dilemma that life lends everyone

 

And now that I am older, I still roam hospital halls,

This world that seemed big is now stiflingly small

At times, I feel useless, a mere harbinger of doom

I see tears, fear, and sorrow when I walk into rooms

I thought I could help them, but “help” is deceiving;

The help that I bring relies on others believing

That I carry hope, when all I have left are lies

Each time I see a win, some other hope dies

At night, I see stars; they watch me from their place

High upon the firmament, revelling in space.

Can they even see me? Would they care to, if they could?

And how would they judge me? Would it be scornful or good?

Sometimes (though it’s foolish), I pretend they can hear

And I shout up, “WHO AM I?” and “WHY AM I HERE?”

But there is no answer from them. There has never been.

And I remember I’m alone; this life isn’t what it once seemed

I stumble through my nights, beneath this unfeeling starry sky,

Without an answer to my question: just who am I?

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