First there is this selection from The Writer's Almanac:
"Observations of an OB/GYN Nurse"
by Lois Parker Edstrom
In memory of Dr. Tom Critchfield
The babies, CEOs of his life,
set the schedule, write the script.
They arrive in predawn hours
and the middle of the afternoon
unaware of an overflowing
waiting room or his need for a few
hours of uninterrupted sleep.
The police recognize his car,
escort him to the hospital
for those middle of the night calls.
Surgery, lunch in the hospital cafeteria,
then office hours where the babies,
bundled in mother’s arms,
check in for a six-week visit
peaceful and slumbering, as if making up
for the sleep he missed.
At career’s end, twin granddaughters
born on his birthday.
Memories streak across the mind’s sky.
We need their bright, yet fleeting comfort.
His life of births, his solitary death.
This night Venus trembles
below the crescent moon
like a glistening tear.
"Observations of an OB/GYN Nurse" by Lois Parker Edstrom from Night Beyond Black. © Moon Path Press, 2016.
* * * * *
And there is this personal postscript:
I offer the foregoing poem, copied from today's edition of The Writer's Almanac, without comment about the poem's qualities, which I am not qualified to judge; however, the subject of the poem, which I think is poignant and powerful, and the poem's mere existence provoke me to ponder the question: who are more important contributors to society -- people who create art (reaching and influencing some people) or people who do something more substantial and essential in life (reaching and influencing many more people).
In a less circuitous approach to the issue, I ask you this more specific question based upon my thinking about and reaction to the poem: what types of people are more important contributors to society at large -- people like the doctor (i.e., the millions of tangible, necessary contributors to society) or someone like the poet (i.e., the fewer and perhaps less important and less essential contributors to society)?
Yes, you will counter that I am being foolish because the world needs all types, and you might argue that a world without the arts is both unimaginable and unacceptable. However, I am not quite certain of that notion. This is a complicated issue, and I am probably guilty of not framing the argument sensibly. Perhaps I should say it this way, not intending but perhaps unconsciously swerving into irony: I would rather have doctors than poets in the world. Hmmm.
Well, what do you think?