A patient has unprecedented and uncomfortable symptoms. I am not sure what to say at first, but after a minute or two a pattern emerges. It helps if I can examine the patient, touch the patient. A patient or colleague or friend or relative is upset. They have some grief to share. Or anger. Or heartbreak. I don’t know what to say, but I know when to be quiet. A surgeon, with years of experience, can replace a knee or repair an aorta faster than she would have imagined possible as a novice. A physical therapist guides the injured shoulder through the arc that will make it stronger, allow it to heal. If there is an art to medicine and surgery, so there is a craft. As doctors and surgeons, as healers of all kinds, we know the difference between sloppy and neat. We hope for solutions that fit tightly, with the least room for error, or miscommunication, or leaks, or infection, or overlooked possibility.
I take home a few hundred pages of submissions to Hospital Drive, the poems and essays and stories that have survived the initial review process, read them and listen for surprise, originality, feeling, authenticity. I examine their craft—the sound, sense, imagery, syntax, tone, diction, pacing, and point of view that manipulate tension and add tacit meaning to arrangements of words. I look for skill, or the beginning of skill. I regret that we can’t accept everything. I regret that most of the authors are people I don’t know. I want to thank everyone who submits to Hospital Drive, who reads Hospital Drive, who shares and values the words and images that complement and honor our attempt to understand illness and protect health.
Daniel Becker, Editor
Courtesy of Historical Collections & Services, Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, University of Virginia