Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Immigrants, all

Eric Pfeiffer
Tampa, Florida, USA


Poet’s statement: I am so lucky. My poems write themselves. I only listen.

Immigrants, all

Old age was a foreign country
when I first came here,
another language spoken,
and customs hard to understand.

But I have learned the language.
Sometimes I even dream
in my new tongue
though idioms still elude me.

I tried to ask the natives
what something meant,
but couldn’t find a native, not one.
All were immigrants.

I asked the doctor and was told
“The doctor will be right in.”
I waited, waited.
Time seemed to be measured
in some other coin.

Age is an alien country,
and I’m learning, learning still.


Untitled, Chromogenic print by Todd Hochberg
Todd Hochberg
Chromogenic print
6”x 9”



ERIC PFEIFFER, MD, has had poems published in JAMA, The Pharos, and in 2010 he published his second collection of poems, Under one roof: Poems, which can be purchased at Amazon. His website is ericpfeiffermd.com.


About the photographer

TODD HOCHBERG is a documentary photographer who works in conjunction with hospital bereavement programs, palliative care programs, hospices, and directly with individuals. He makes documentary photographs and legacy video for individuals and families who are struggling with end-of-life transitions. His work resides in the permanent collection of the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography. He was a finalist in the W. Eugene Smith Grant Competition in Humanistic Photography in 2003. He also had a solo exhibition at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in 2009. Visit his website at momentsheld.org.

Photographer’s statement: Legacy work is a personal, emotional, and spiritual exploration of one’s place during a life transition rather than merely a chronological recall of life events. Through documentary photography and video, I help individuals and families who are struggling with a serious illness or death of a loved one. The resultant images offer a gentle link to memories of significant loving relationships and precious experiences, which may contribute to emotional healing.


Highlighted in Frontispiece Spring 2011 – Volume 3, Issue 2

Spring 2011   |  Sections  |  Poetry

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