Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays, Writers-in-Training
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The Line

I have stood on both sides of the line —
The line between mother and medic;
The line between parent and practitioner.
I have followed my mother’s intuition,
Which sometimes has led to the doctor’s office
And other times has left me rocking a sick baby at 3 a.m., alone in the dark.
I have been humbled by what I don’t know
And what I don’t know that I don’t know.
I have been bolstered by listening to my gut
And knowing my child as well as I know the workings of the human body.
I have juggled what feels like a thousand balls,
Sandwiching studies and clinics between bath time and breastfeeding.
My mind, often split between mothering and medicine,
Leaves me feeling like I am never wholly one or the other.
The line is thick and wide — a schism of two defining roles
That play at odds with one another.
Am I mama, or am I doctor?
I can stand on that line,
With a foot in each world,
Forever intertwined,
My identity shifting like water in a river,
Never flowing the same way twice.
I am never just one,
And that is my secret strength.

Poetry Thursdays is a weekly newsletter that highlights poems by medical students and physicians. This initiative is led by Slavena Salve Nissan at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. If you are interested in contributing, please contact Slavena.

Alison Toback Alison Toback (2 Posts)


Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine

Alison Toback is a third year medical student at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Prior to that, she graduated from Drexel University with a BS in Biological Sciences and an MPH with a concentration in Epidemiologiy and Biostatistics. When she isn't studying or running around a hospital, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, knitting, and eating dessert. She has a blog entitled Simply A, where she writes about medicine, motherhood, mental health, and other things that don't start with the letter M.