Quilting a Life by Malika Sharma

Poem name: Quilting a Life Poet name: Malika Sharma Poem: This excerpt is from an essay and presentation by Malika Sharma for Cross-Pollinations: Virtual Health Humanities Series I am a baby quilter – meaning I have recently decided to take what my grandmother and mother taught me about caring for fabric, threading needles, and weaving love through thread and teach myself how to quilt. Sometimes I feel as though I am in a rush to get to the old lady phase of my life when I can sit in a rocking chair, fabric on my lap, needle in hand, yarn at my side, and make things for the people I love without anyone telling me I’m late, without the fear that I missed something while doing that last consult, without the anxiety of how I’m going to get the kids to school in time and still get to my first meeting. I am not aiming for perfection - my favourite quilts are those with unexpected fabrics, colours that clash just so slightly, those with tiny errors where the quilter made one wrong cut and had to sew together two broken pieces to make one. Sewing these messy, mismatched pieces together to make one warm and complete whole seems like the perfect metaphor for my experience as a physician. As an HIV physician, I often try to erect firm, concrete boundaries between my work and home lives, afraid that if I allow for any cracks, work will come flooding through and carry my family away in a tsunami of patient care and paperwork. But in connecting these quilts – the real one I’m making using the skills and tools shared by my mother and grandmother, the metaphoric one explored in these words, and the astonishing AIDS memorial quilt sewn out of devastation and loss, I recognize the threads that bind me together and make me whole. End of poem. Credits and bio: Copyright © Malika Sharma This excerpt is from an essay and presentation by Malika Sharma for Cross-Pollinations: Virtual Health Humanities Series Malika Sharma is an HIV and Infectious Disease physician and Clinician Teacher at St. Michael’s Hospital. Clinically, she focuses on caring for people and communities who are often marginalized and oppressed by our healthcare systems, including those who use substances and people living with HIV. Her teaching and scholarly interests center on anti-racist and feminist practices within medical education, harm reduction, and the structural determinants of health.

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The Canadian Association for Health Humanities and the League of Canadian Poets are partnering to deliver a series of monthly rounds focused on health, arts and humanities. These live sessions will feature both artists and professionals in the Health Humanities field for a multi-faceted conversation about topics related to healthcare, art, healing, and humanities.

In this ground-breaking new series, health humanities and poetry come together under the same scope, combining artistic expression with health practice and research. The conversations of Cross-Pollinations will illuminate new and emerging insights and perspectives on healthcare opportunities and challenges, healthcare approaches and advances, as well as build bridges of connection between health professionals, humanities and the arts.

This series is ideal for people in arts communities, poets and writers, as well as those working in healthcare.

Learn more about Cross-Pollinations