I am working on a new manuscript, having sent the final, final version of Slight Faith off to its next stop: publication on May 1st. I’ve already found a word I feel I *must* change, and I really want to stop that craziness and move on to the next thing.
At my job, the next thing is surprising. I had a horrible past year at work, as things were changing so much politically and on so many levels. Not to belabor details, but I have worked for decades as a nurse practitioner, and for the past six years I’ve been following chronic pain patients in a large rural family medicine clinic. If you’re following me here, you’re thinking “yeah, that’s about opioids, heroin, overdoses” but it’s also about misplaced blame for the “opioid epidemic” aimed at low hanging fruit (in this case, me).
I will stop here to say simply that I have moved on and it feels good. I am no longer seeing chronic pain patients, but, thanks be, I do still have a job– probably the least stressful one I’ve ever had in my work-life. These days, I spend one day visiting hospice patients, and 3 days in the clinic seeing walk-in patients, and counseling patients on behavioral change, be it for weight loss, smoking cessation, reducing alcohol use, and so forth. It feels doable. I hope to work two more years, and then retire.
Like many poets (and people generally) when I’m under a great deal of stress, I function pretty well, but the stress shows up in dreams, and when I’m able to honor it, through poems. My new manuscript is a departure for me, it is more intimate and risky. It’s full of pain, but also hope. May we all survive this year.
In the crush of regret subject and object
exchange garments. Time is a notion too
liminal to survive. If you’re willing to amend,
there may be hope. For a moment, the stricken
sparrow’s shivering heart still beats. It’s time
to loosen the strangling cord that binds us so
painfully to one another and consider freedom.