by SJ Laird

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.

But risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love – live.
Chained by his certitude, he is a slave; he has forfeited freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

John (Thatcher)
by Kelli Hyland

my hero.
when my own voice faltered
and i begun to lose what i barely held
vague and vaporous

he did not understand
but knew i needed him

trusting me
he fought my battle
not because i couldn’t
but so i would.

by Kelli Hyland

two brains
one less articulate
another more confident,

i piece together the words
with help
to connect the two
give them both voice,

equally important
both a precious part
left with desire
to access both
without feeling split apart,

two worlds
the doctors
the patients
the human being-ness
lost between, among, apart
from them

a giant puzzle
i am here
to explore.

by Kelli Hyland

they call this “exposure therapy”
to treat yourself to little bits
of the thing you have learned
to avoid
slammed shut the door
on the all of it
missing out on the gifts of it too

and the little bits causing such
connecting to the grief
and you breathe through
and you survive
held lovingly
and the room doesn’t explode

exposure is what is being done to you
but exposed is what you are as well
being brave
and calm
gets easier
and you begin to notice
all the pillows in your universe
and the joy you shut out

inside you

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Fully Alive
by Dawna Markova

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

by Kelli Hyland

keeping my head above.
once saved me from drowning, disappearing,
washing away.
lost in chaos.

convinced its all i had
(kept me alive, and now)
keeps me irritated,

fixing what’s broken
works as a doctor,
and doesn’t.

is the nightmare in my closet.

watching Scout helps.
always urging her brave,
seems silly,
if i can’t myself.

loving her,
wanting to learn her
(and myself),
see and meet her;
not think, know
or fix her.

means not-broken.

means learning to listen,
learning to learn,

there’s more to me,
i am discovering.

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their  bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

White Coat
by Kelli Hyland

Worn well.

Graying sleeves:
Pumping a hopelessly dying, nameless vet’s chest;
Warming me when I cried through sleepless nights, endless 32-hour “days”, failures - real or imagined.

Torn pocket:
Carrying cards – ringed; how to restart a heart; color-coded how to know a patient you don’t know, but whose life may be in your hands at 2 a.m. in the morning; 3x5 everything you ever wanted to know about your own patients but are prone to forget without sleep/caffeine/the good sense to hold it together while being pimped on morning rounds.
Carrying nuts, protein bars, gummy bears, cardiology stethoscope, reflex hammer, pen lights, pens, ibuprofen, pagers, breath mints, chapstick, taped-together UCSF Intern reference handbook.

Long body:
Blood, puke, saliva-stained.
Draping me as I nursed my infant at 10 p.m. in the hospital Starbucks.
Blanketing me as I napped as nap-could.

Exhausted, beat up, beat down, now balled-up in the back of my closet like a forgotten dust-bunny.

I sleep now.  And eat.  I pick up my kid from school, take her to the library/park/museum.  I have entire weekends, vacations when I want.  My scrubs are now pajamas.  No one dies or bleeds or drools.  There is time to reference or I carry it in my head.  My tools are my compassion, my ability to “get” you, see you, love you, stay with you, believe in you when no one else does.  I need to know how to calm myself, sit in silence, watch, wait.

worn well,
but no longer needed.