BBP from the GGB

October 1, 2006

Poetry of the Times.

Thirteen hundred since 1937--
the most popular place on earth
to take the final flight, some so high
they believed they had wings,
others so heavy with sadness
they imagined the answer
could be found at the bottom
of the cold, black bay.
And the traffic surges north
to the headlands, streams
south to the city, and the sea
sends fog to conceal
what people prefer not to see.
For seventy years our ER
has dressed the wounds
of each smashed body and the few
mangled men and women
who survived ruptured spleens
and broken backs, legs shattered
like glass against granite.
We've heard each survivor
tell the identical story
of their 4-second fall,
how stupid they felt,
how much time they had to think,
their leap was now
the only thing in their lives
they could not change.
And the town mothers and fathers
won't build a barrier,
and people keep coming
to jump, a story so common
we always abbreviate
Brought by Police
from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Dr Berlin is associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. He recently established the Gerald F. Berlin Creative Writing Award at the University of Massachussetts Medical School, one of only a few medical student creative writing prizes in the United States.