Empathy

October 1, 2002
Richard M. Berlin, MD

Volume 19, Issue 10

One more mouth rimmed in charcoal after an OD screams for release: to probe the night for the man who left her. No one pretends an interest: at 4 a.m. it's too late to care.

One more mouth
rimmed in charcoal
after an OD
screams for release:
to probe the night
for the man who left her.
No one pretends
an interest: at 4 a.m.
it's too late to care.
She bolts toward the ER door
and we herd her like a cat.
Without medicine
for this kind of pain
I sit beside her
on the gurney
and we stare
at the first gray edge
of light that separates
mountain from sky.
In the collapse of time
we breathe in silence,
rhythms synchronized
in twilight sleep.
Half-awake
I touch her arm
and hear myself say:
It hurts so much
to lose someone you love.
And she pours out a story
sad and familiar
as a country song.
In the window our shapes
reflect like hope in new light.
I start to pull back,
warm and distant
as the rising sun.