Saturday, December 19, 2009

Guest Blog: The Limits of Medicine

Frances Wu is an assistant director of the Somerset Family Medicine Residency Program in Somerville, NJ. She enjoys teaching, seeing patients and volunteering with the student-run clinic at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and with the Human Rights Clinic for HealthRight International. "I think that my career in family medicine has given me so much to live for and to write about that I can hardly contain it. I'm working on a novel this year with the impossibly concurrent themes of love, death and the healing power of laughter." The following poem was first published in Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine.

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THE LIMITS OF MEDICINE

I can not change the color of the sky.
The texture of the rain, the distance of a star
must needs be fixed by ancient ritual
unaccepted by our modernity.
I can not change the length of your night.
The number of hours, the days of your life
are set by stern fate, impassive to sighs,
unsympathetic, and cold to your plight.
I can not count the breaths that are left.
Day into day, year into frightened morn,
only you, in your heart can know
the obscurity of the sand that now sifts.
I can not make a single tear move;
Its salt will wend its way to the earth
that calls with an irresistible force,
one that will not soon leave off.
I have been roundly trounced
by movements and thunderings greater
by far than my hand's grasp;
and for their final victory, I apologize.

- Frances Wu

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