Your anesthesiologist self pockets memories:

a mentor perched in a corner like a long-legged cricket

another, the violin maker, hovered inches from your fingers

your tribe of fellow residents: exhausted, elated, covalently bound

the long list of surgeons, nurses, techs, clerks

its sinews learn the elastic give of needles puncturing fibers

the yogic poses—one hand on bag, the other on stethoscope bell

but mostly, patients sculpt your anesthesiologist self

each eager systole

each rise of bellows in a pas de deux with lungs

each push of medication into bloodstream currents

each check of eyelid, elbow, exhalation

each patient you render unable to blink

then return back, back to those he loves—

is connected to you

even—especially—the patient who died

the practice of anesthesia molds your anesthesiologist self

but its kernel germinated long ago

when tenderness cocooned you in your baby blanket

fostered curiosity about otters, street food, hockey, guitars

the great world opened, and you, wising up

understood the luck of your circumstances

your anesthesiologist self blooms

over decades, until you and your anesthesiologist self entwine

you wonder how long can you be quick and savvy

who will you be without your anesthesiologist self?

but today, this is what matters:

in the preop holding area

your patient’s shoulders relax, ever so slightly

meeting a human being he now trusts