Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Meadow

Medical Oncologist Reconsidered as a Bush Pilot

My doctor is the very model of a medical oncologist, in a city, in a highly industrialized country. She has trained at top universities; works at the best hospital; has access to the latest data, techniques and treatments; and conducts and publishes her own cancer research. She is the medical equivalent of an elite jet fighter pilot. 

Staying with the metaphor, clinically her job is to help wounded planes fly the furthest and best they can, considering the damage sustained by cancer. In a few cases the planes fly normally on their own again. She does all this using sophisticated diagnostics, specialized drones, fluids, and other treatment repair tools. 

When I became her "patient plane" last May she was faced with an aircraft that flew well but had serious internal damage. After trying two different techniques that did not succeed in making any repairs, we had a conversation about the next options. 

Finally I asked if she could please just help fly me home. So she agreed.  Armed with her own escape method to get her back to the jet fighter, she finds herself sitting in what amounts to a sturdy, early-model bush plane. All the controls are analog, no electronic systems per se. Some of the controls simply don't work, some labels are worn off, or nonexistent, or in some antiquated foreign script. But it is a machine with soul.  

So that is how my doctor became the very model of a tough, canny bush pilot in a remote land. She has to rely on her fundamental knowledge of flying -- wind, direction, altitude, a sense of orientation, basic physics -- and the naked eye. She is keeping her eye out for a meadow. 

The Meadow

We are looking for that meadow --
How will we know it?

It's...golden. Have you been here before? 
The light on it it glows
but does not throw a glare.

It smells…well, it smells of earth. 
Or like your forearm as you walk outside 
on a warm day, just starting to perspire. 
It smells good.

The ground is solid,
neither dusty nor bumpy nor muddy.
It's big enough to land a small plane in.

And small enough to recognize you.
Call you by name.
Call you home. 

-Elizabeth B. Randolph               


  1. Hi Besty, it is Neil, one of the "Milwaukee Gang" that gathers with your mom each NYE at J&J's farm. Jim shared your link. Your writing is poetic and profound and inspirational and insightful. Thank you for publicly publishing. You and your family are in our thoughts often.

  2. The analogies and metaphors are marvelous! I love you and my wish for you is that your bush pilot brings you peacefully to the the golden meadow..Mom?Dodie

  3. Hi Betsy, Alisa here. I love these recent poems of yours. You are transforming your journey into art and then generously sharing your art with us. Thank you.

  4. Beautiful and graceful... just like you :)