A Further Shore Is Reachable

April 24, 2020

Richard Berlin, MD, recites "COVID-19," by Dr Chris Fitzpatrick. It is a series of haikus strung together to highlight the many moments in hospitals that are happening everywhere in the world. This. Very. Moment.

POETRY FOR THE PANDEMIC

Why poetry? As the great Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai said, “When words fail, that’s when poetry begins.”

Richard Berlin, MD, recites "COVID-19," written by Dr Chris Fitzpatrick, a senior obstetrician-gynecologist at Coombe Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. "COVID-19" is a series of haikus strung together to highlight the many moments in hospitals that are happening everywhere in the world.

In the poem’s powerful ending, Dr Fitzpatrick refers to a line by the Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney: “Believe that a further shore is reachable from here.”

COVID-19

Day shift now
a midwife puts on PPE
a baby cries just the same

Big signs everywhere
In yellow: COVID-19
No visitors allowed

Make rounds, discharges home
Afternoon phone-call clinic
Read algorithms

Login on laptop
National webinar
A thousand doctors

Watch live TV
Getting closer to the surge
Flatten the curve, now

Wash hands, cough
In a tissue or sleeve,
Keep apart, stay at home

The prime minister
Is our Sully who’s worked out
Where the Hudson River is

PPEs airborne
Battles fought in ICUs
The world over

Phone my mam and dad
Cocooned and praying hard
For all those without a mass to attend

I think of Heaney:
Believe a further shore
Is reachable
It is

Disclosures:

Dr Berlin has been writing a poem about his experience of being a doctor every month for the past 23 years in Psychiatric Times in a column called "Poetry of the Times." He is Instructor in Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA.