Anatomy Lab

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Psychiatric TimesVol 40, Issue 3

"By year’s end, brittle with guilt, we hovered over our hollow creation..."

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POETRY OF THE TIMES


She was stretched out naked,

young and blonde,

wild and frightening


when the others were so old,

everyone at the steel table

pretending not to notice


the fortune of her body.

That first day I sliced off her breast,

scalpel circling round and round


the way I might halve a peach,

to study her glistening secrets

with detachment and awe.


We explored the deep insertions

where muscle joins bone,

subtracted her face, her arms,


plucked ovaries and heart like thieves,

but lost count of the treasures

severed from ourselves.


By year’s end, brittle with guilt,

we hovered over our hollow creation,

pretending to look away


from the short blonde braid

at the base of her skull

no one had the courage to cut.


Dr Berlin has been writing a poem about his experience of being a doctor every month for the past 25 years in Psychiatric Times™ in a column called “Poetry of the Times.” He is instructor in psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts. His latest book is Freud on My Couch.

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