End of Summer

September 1, 2006

Poetry of the Times

Pink anemones at my feet nod

and wave in the southern breeze.

Monarchs spread their wings

on an Adirondack chair while

I fill my mouth with raspberries

picked from our heavy canes.

A New Yorker story I'm reading

describes a 23-year-old soldier

in Iraq killed when shrapnel

smashed his skull just below

the helmet line, his parents

back home, grieving, my own

daughter, exactly his age

ribbon-dancing in China,

her biggest risk being run over

by a Shanghai taxi. And I'm

like the last bluebirds feasting

on ripe fruit before their journey

south, summer's last sweet taste

filling my mouth, staining my

fingers red as I ask myself how

I can complain about billing rates

and medical bureaucracy,

how I dare to complain

about anything, anything at all.

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 Massachusetts Medical School, one of only a few medical student creative writing prizes in the United States.