Apology - Poetry of the Times
High above a northern coast
I read my poems to William
and Father Paul.
A cormorant speeds down a shore
lined with granite boulders
black as dead men's teeth.
I've been over my head in this winter
bones aching cold from all the dead
I've held this drowning year:
William alone in a hospital room
plastic tubes streaming like seaweed;
Father Paul alone in the rectory,
electricity burning his legs,
his smile and wasted hand
trembling an offer of gold-wrapped
My own distant father drifts here, too,
always dying in Piscataway, N.J.
William paints now on a warmer coast
and believes he is cured.
Father Paul died in his sleep.
And I cry survivor's guilt,
apologize for stealing their pain
for poems, ashamed of my living greed,
like a sailor flailing
for a piece of wreckage as he swallows
the ocean and his own tears,
a moaner buoy somewhere in the
the only voice he hears.
© CME LLC
Dr. Berlin is in private practice in Lenox, Mass., and is associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts.
Read more of Dr. Berlin's work.