A definition of compassion

                                                                         After my patient

stormed past me with fists near my face and slammed
the door gunshot loud enough to bring a crowd
to my exam room, I went on with my day,
the gnawing core of me ignored.

But on the drive home, I wondered if he knew where I live,
if he would show up, or already be inside with that crowbar.

Caring for the ailing is not usually hazardous,
or perhaps I’ve lost track of danger. I do it
and shut up.

He showed up in my dreams. I know I can’t evade death,
no single life is spared. But, like anyone, I fear ruthless brutality.
I know, or know well enough. In my exam room,
on the drive home, in bed, I think I know enough about illness
to drive myself there solo.

I keep thinking about him, his truculent past, his sorrow.
I am paid to attend suffering 
you see,
and when I have to say
no, I can’t do that,
I am paid, I suppose, to suffer with. 

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3 Responses to A definition of compassion

  1. Mark says:

    You have seen and experienced so much.

  2. Linda Spalding says:

    Out of your depths I am awakened to compassion.

  3. Been there. Several times. You express it with guts and directness. Bravo.

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