Found Poem by Taylor Anderson-Barkley


As we have learned from Rita Charon, one of the main goals of Narrative Medicine is Intersubjectivity and the importance of connections between people. Not only can these connections allow people to open up about themselves and no longer feel alone, but it can also heal. In terms of medicine, Intersubjectivity can heal both the doctor and the patient, as forming a connection is a two-way street. When it comes to medical interactions, I believe it is important for both the doctor and the patient to understand the significance and benefits of allowing a connection to form throughout the medical process, even if it is a brief one. With such knowledge, the practice of medicine can transform from a cold and dejected experience to one that allows both the patient and the doctor to leave the experience feeling alive and undeniably human. It is these two ends of the medical experience spectrum that are portrayed quite beautifully within Samuel Shem’s The House of God, making the text a perfect foundation for the following poem.

My ambition for this poem is that when it is read, the audience will become aware of the current nature of the practice of medicine, when it comes to the interactions between doctor and patient, in not all, but a majority of places. However, I do not want them to fret and be consumed with despair, as they read the second half of the poem, I want them to be filled with hope and possibly a sense of activism leading them to help in the cause of changing the way things are now. As for our community partners, specifically those in the medical profession, who I do not believe treat their patients with a lack respect, compassion, and love, hopefully after reading this poem they will feel more inclined to persuade others within their field to practice medicine in a likewise manner. This would be more effective than your Average Joe trying to persuade a medical professional, as our community partners could most likely be seen as equals and alas be more respected and trusted because of that.

When it comes to the title of the poem, “The Resilience of an Unbroken Bond”, I decided to choose this title as I felt it best describes the power of Intersubjectivity between a doctor and a patient. Looking closely at the word ‘bond’, we can think of something that attaches things together, like a glue for example, we could think of something that holds things up and/or keeps them whole, such as a chain, or we could see the bond between people, as in a relationship. Now, when a chain is broken everything it holds will fall and when glue no longer bounds things they will separate and in both cases the original functionality is lost. However, when the chain and glue remain intact they can seem quite rigid. Same goes with the bond between people. This leads us in a full circle back to the poem at hand, as we can see the similarities between glue, chains, and relationships and how they can all be conferred by the single word ‘bond’. Thus with the title “The Resilience of an Unbroken Bond” I hope to infer the power and rigidity of a solid relationship between doctors and patients and what can be lost without it.



The Resilience of an Unbroken Bond

–found poem by Taylor Anderson-Barkley, excerpted from The House of God, by Samuel Shem, pp. 267, 214, 295, 65, 247, 256, 268, 281, 271, 208, 213, 225, 110, 61, 238, 59, 251, 113, 121, 96, 126, 174, 182, 185, 183, 170, 143, 139, 171, 149, 52, 41, & 184.


Under incredible pressure, alone, with no support

How could I survive?

Set up with hope and then smashed with despair

Don’t go, don’t leave me alone here

Becoming more isolated, the more we needed support

I had stepped out on my own

I felt numb

I felt dead inside

I could not “be with” others

It’s like putting on a space helmet and going around on autopilot

Emotionally, you withdraw, so that you’re not really there

My eyes had become hard blank disks

It separated me from them

I felt cold, unsheltered, perplexed

Like Hiroshima, all black, empty, and scorched

All I wanted then was to be taken care of

I was a child grasping a sunbeam, opening my hand to find the light turned dark

The warmth gone

That’s not crazy, that’s modern medicine

If you keep doing what you’re doing

You’re not going to make it through




Right now, he’s still a bird in a cage

Open it up

Set him free

Let him fly

With a growing sense of camaraderie

We began to understand each other

I realized how much we’d grown to care for each other

We were developing a code of caring

Listening to each other’s groans

The ocean of humanity rolling and surging under my eyes

Spritzing joy amidst the horror and the pain

A human tapestry, ever unraveling under my eyes

What they wanted was what anyone wanted:

The hand in their hand, the sense that their doctor could care

With me, they feel they’re still part of the human race

It makes us more human

This is life

As high as the golden leaves riding the crests of the October maples

I felt human

I’m here

I felt like

Like I had something to give

They believed in me

Here was what medicine could be: human to human


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