My hope with this poem was to show the audience the value of time and temporality, everything gets better with time. Although, at the beginning it may be a tough road ahead, you should never doubt time. Only time will tell, defines this poem perfectly. By showing the audience the progression from the start to the end of this poem allows them to understand taking on a new journey, no matter what stage of life. Whether that be to become a doctor or to learn to play the guitar or something as small as complimenting someone everyday to become a more positive person.
The House of God recognizes the strain that interns go through during the crucial, initial years of their new journey into the world of medicine. Experiencing as much death and sadness can make anyone cynical but this poem demonstrates that with time perspectives can change. I’m hoping that this poem will show the community that whatever journey you wish to take on might not be a walk in the park but that they will prevail in the end, no matter how long it takes. It took Roy a whole year to realize that he was numbing his pain using sarcasm and running important relationships in his life. Eventually, with the help of Berry, he figures out what he must change in order to overcome this obstacle he has created for himself.
Temporality can be defined in a couple ways: passage of time, recognition that our lives are temporary or by the life cycle. This poem displays this element of narrative medicine, structurally, because it is written in chronological order. Starting with the hardship Roy is facing and moving through his progression and realization of reality. Roy realizes that his life is temporary because of the death he is surrounded by on a daily basis and by the sadness he feels whenever he is in the House of God. Although, this is poem spans over just one year it shows the cycle of life in a shorter period of time. In a way Roy starts of as a child in the House of God and develops through the stages of life and hits that “mid-life crisis”, if you will. After some help he understands how he is being destructive in his life by numbing out his pain and pushing people out of his life.
When the community reads this poem I want them to feel empathetic for the person behind the poem and then feel empowered when he overcomes the struggle. The first stanza is very heavy, which I purposely did to get the reader intrigued and feeling what Roy is feeling throughout his internship. Then changing gears in the second stanza to allow a light at the end of the tunnel affect to appear to the reader. This will allow the readers to relate it to a situation they have encountered in their lifetime and hopefully let them see the light at the end of their tunnel. When the audience is able to relate to the poem is allows for a greater understanding and analysis of the poem itself, seeing the big picture. The next step would be applying this to their own lives. Applying a poem like this to their lives can make them more motivated to achieve a dream or accomplish a goal.
-Found poem by Grace Barrett, excerpted from The House of God, by Samuel Shem, pp. 250, 261, 268, 271, 33, 302, 41, 145, 145, 148, 169, 126, 143, 171, 349, 351
Part of me wondered,
What the hell I was doing
I’d become cynical
I felt numb, absence of feeling
And I waited, as the long seconds ticked away
My guilt moaning inside me
Time turned timeless
I got more and more tired
I sat there and cried
I slammed my fist down over and over again,
Bashing away the world
It’s the hardest thing we ever do, to be a doctor for the dying
This was new
To have a good time in the House of God?
Worry less about saving patients
More about saving ourselves
I felt close to tears
We were becoming doctors
It was all so easy and it was all so damn much fun
I had spent a human sixteen hours in the House of God
What was my hope now?
[I] was safe.
[I] would flourish.
[I] would bloom.