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Ape With the Bone

Ape With the Bone

“I’m good at it,” Dr Levin went on, “but there’s not a lot to master in medications. It’s like ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ where you had Hal the supercomputer juxtaposed with the ape with the bone. I feel like I’m the ape with the bone now.”
—from The New York Times


We all read his story in the Sunday paper—

a colleague who hammers out hundreds

of med-checks each month, telling his ten

minute patients, “I’m not your therapist,”

when they want to discuss anything

more than symptoms and side effects,

just a grim, mechanical, soul-crushing,

piece-work routine that drives Chinese

workers to jump from Shenzhen factory roofs.

We were sad he lost his retirement money

in stocks, that he gave up talk therapy

to pay his future bills, his nostalgia

for the days when psychotherapy ruled.

And it rattled our bones to see ourselves

in him, to have our professional secrets

spilled over the world’s morning coffee,

the Times ink staining our hands.

But my saddest moment came when

I pictured him at his waiting room door

clutching a chart, catching eyes,

calling out a name, bewildered

by the face of each stranger

who stands up to join him.

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