Triage of Two Cultures

  • Kaveh Danesh

The day I got into medical school my grandfather called.

He said now that you’re a doctor I have a question.

Two dying patients come to your clinic, he said

before I could stop him—

a parent and a child.

Whom do you see first, and why?

I’m not a doctor yet! I said.

You’re wasting time, he said—

the patients are getting sicker.

Well can I ask some questions? I said.

Questions? he said—

the dying want answers.

The child! I blurted out

in English. The child

has longer to live.

There was a pause—not long, but long enough

to sense the disappointment and to question:

Do oceans mix? How can blood look red

and blue? Will I speak the language

of Oedipus and Laius or of Rostam and Sohrab

when, some narrowed arteries from now,

my immigrant grandfather calls for one last answer.


Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kaveh Danesh
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.University of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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