Dr. Kildare

November 1, 2004

Years ago, when I still believedDr. Kildare could cure my father,I stayed awake past my bedtimeto learn to be a doctor.

Years ago, when I still believed

Dr. Kildare could cure my father,

I stayed awake past my bedtime

to learn to be a doctor.

Now I only remember

Kildare falling in love

with his patient,

a beautiful earth goddess

played by Yvette Mimieux,

her character dying,

Kildare unable to find a cure,

even with the wisdom

of his omnipotent Chief.

I didn't learn how to treat my father

in that episode,

but I memorized "The Tyger,"

which Kildare and his patient recited

before each commercial.

At the end, Kildare crying,

Yvette receding into the mist,

the camera closes in on her lips

whispering "Tyger! Tyger! burning bright "

My father dies a few years later.

No one recited poetry

when they called a code

and cracked his body.

And I grew up and became a doctor,

even married one as beautiful as Yvette.

But Medicine hasn't made me handsome

like Kildare, and patients don't recite Blake,

though there has been a kind of poetry

that flutters like TV screens in the fifties,

all the images in shades of gray.