The Pledge

October 23, 2017

There was combat in Nam and I let my hair grow long, went to college, studied orgo until I became draft exempt...

 

There was combat in Nam

and I let my hair grow long,

went to college, studied orgo

until I became draft exempt

in med school. My patients

were vets from WWII and Korea,

bitter, blue-collared men

whose cirrhosis and substance

abuse became my doctor DNA.

Now, my med student daughter

volunteers for soldiers shattered

in Iraq, her own back screwed

titanium tight after a taxi crash.

She knows these vets in her bones,

knows about rest and rehab,

how a crushed spine knits.

And we both know how words

start recovery, like her

surgeon’s pledge, “I will do

my best to take good care of you,”

both of us making that promise

to every new patient,

another strand of shared DNA.