Slim and poignant, Doctoring in Nicaragua by Greg Stidham is a collection of twenty-three short poems that capture the author’s experience as a pediatric ICU physician. In turn observant and lyrical, the poems capture unique moments with the personae, parents grieving the loss of a child, the joy of watching a child recover, or the moment caught between hope and despair while “ the irregular heart / strikes the syncopated / backbeat of the bass lines, / borrows from the undercurrent / of the blues: blue lips, / blue fingertips.” The poems are brimming with captivating imagery and each line carries a weight of its own, a current that reflects what people feel as patients or those taking care of patients.
The author writes about a pain like no other he has ever felt, “except through small pieces / shared by those who have, / parents who’ve lost a child —.” This poet allows readers to experience humanity in what he writes about by connecting with those who experience unimaginable pain, like a mother who holds an infant “… wrapped in dish towel-sized / blue-trimmed baby blankets, / while lips paled almost indiscernibly….” The emotional richness, the sonic richness, and the limpid style of these few poems are exemplary and the author deftly explores the complexities associated with the sheer pain of being human, reminding readers of the fragility of life. This author writes with passion about life, agony, and human pain, alchemizing deeply unique experiences with universal emotions. Greg Stidham’s Doctoring in Nicaragua is a work of rare beauty that poetry fans will read and then read again. This is a wonderfully wrought work of art with universal and eternal currents.