"By year’s end, brittle with guilt, we hovered over our hollow creation..."
Any Good Poem
Richard Berlin, MD, shares his poem "Anatomy Lab."
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 the Psychiatric Times™ “Poetry of the Times” column. He is instructor in psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts. His latest book is Freud on My Couch.