Two Worlds

It’s the thing that separates me from the rest,
A simple addiction makes such a striking distinction:
Somehow donning this white coat places me in another realm,
A world far removed from the mundane activities that
Go on around me; I get a strange sensation the moment
I put it on, as if it were stained with Chiron’s blood,
Stubbornly sticking to my flesh, searing my sensibilities.

Those who wear the white coat congregate like sheep,
But I often find my flock is missing its shepherd
Sometimes I feel we are wandering aimlessly thorugh
Sterile hospital hallways with no inkling that other humans
Co-exist with us; for a fleeting moment I disrobe, finding that
Those nearby are just like me, as though I had failed to see
The rest of humanity: it is all around us, waiting for us to return.

My epiphany has allowed me to cross the invisible threshold
Between the white-coat world and that other world,
To which I used to belong, to which I had briefly returned
To see the pain, the sorrow, the unsettling fears,
To feel death up close and share the grief and loss,
Now I feel a need to serve and unify these two worlds,
To both of which I now belong to build the missing bridge.

Ron Maggiore, Chicago, Class of 2004