"I was a Jewish boy from the Jersey burbs raised on corned beef and Milano cookies. She was a Mennonite farmgirl whose father shot deer for dinner."
Any Good Poem
Richard Berlin, MD, shares his poem "Chemistry Lesson," which appears in the November issue of Psychiatric Times™.
I was a Jewish boy from the Jersey burbs
raised on corned beef and Milano cookies.
She was a Mennonite farmgirl
whose father shot deer for dinner.
And we were med students who’d fallen
in love on our first date, pressed together
three months later in her galley kitchen,
butter and garlic sizzling in a black
cast iron pan, steam rising from a pot
of boiling water, torn Romaine waiting
to be dressed in a burled wooden bowl,
our trance broken only by her timer’s
reminder to cook linguini and toss
a Caesar salad. But I’d forgotten
to stop for mayo!
Back then I believed
Hellmann’s “Real” Mayonnaise
was an element on the Periodic Table
with an atomic weight nestled
between Manganese and Molybdenum,
a primordial substance the Hellmanns
pumped from deep wells into millions
of blue-lidded bottles they shipped
across America. But before I made
a hero’s gallant sprint to the market
she forgave me with a smile, foraged
eggs from the fridge, cracked them,
separated the yolks, squeezed lemon
juice, sprinkled salt, and whisked in
oil until atoms fused for the miracle
of mayonnaise, her steady green eyes
and naked display of farmgirl skill
the chemistry that bonded us for life.
Dr Berlin has been writing a poem about his experience of being a doctor every month for the past 24 years in Psychiatric Times™ the “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.