First Psychiatric Patient

March 5, 2010
Richard M. Berlin, MD

Volume 27, Issue 3

She was ghetto black,

me, suburban white,

both twenty-five, meeting

in a free clinic basement

miles from medical school.

She heard a voice,

a man’s voice whispering

Whore, you’re a whore,

and all I knew was to listen

as if she were rain,

nodding yes, yes,

wishing I knew the cure.

And the voice stopped

when she started Prolixin,

and by then I could hear

my own voice reveal

the mystery of my career.

Maybe she wasn’t

my first patient,

but she was the first

I remember.