Healing Words: Poetry & Medicine

What role can poetry play in the healing process? That is the question raised in a recent documentary that aired on PBS around the country this month. “Healing Words: Poetry & Medicine” tells the stories of patients from Shands at UF whose lives have been dramatically changed as a result of poetry and artistic expression. The show features the poetry of College of Medicine faculty members Drs. Michael Okun, John Graham-Pole and Rob Lawrence. Dr. Lawrence, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the College of Medicine and director of the outpatient consultation service for UF’s Pediatric Infectious Disease Clinic, shares one of his poems in this issue of Insider.

You Don’t Know How I Feel

You don’t know how I feel.
You are you and I am me,
in that there’s no symmetry

We are not one.
No, we’re not the same,
and hardly know the other’s name.

Even with our stated difference,
we seem the same;
perhaps that’s just the game.

Perceive my feelings,
empathy you say;
can’t happen, just no way.

Your tongue, my taste
your nose, your smell
can’t know me half as well.

Feeling of a tender heart,
you will not find
with probing of just the mind.

You can’t know how I feel,
guilty, ashamed and maybe sad,
afraid and lonely or simply mad.

Someway the spoken words
of how I feel
make it seem all too real.

Yet is it just the words,
which I do fear
or inviting you to hear?

There you sit
wanting me to share
to demonstrate how you care.

Yes, here am I.
And I care too.
Please, tell me, how are you?