Looking Like a God

August 11, 2015
Richard M. Berlin, MD

Volume 32, Issue 8

The trouble with looking like a God becomes clear after we learn to wear our mask of omnipotence, pretending to know the answers to questions...

“What do your patients see when they look at you? They see a God!”
-Robertson Davies


The trouble with looking like a God

becomes clear after we learn to wear

our mask of omnipotence, pretending

to know the answers to questions

as small as a milligram and as large

as death. Joan Osborne wrote a song

about meeting God on the subway,

just another rumpled, gray commuter

without a seat, grasping the overhead rail.

And I believe I met him today

at the general store, seated behind

the counter, sipping coffee, Mozart

on the radio, his expression like mine

when I shuffle papers piled on my desk.

I ask where to find a flyswatter,

but he doesn’t have a clue, and he can’t

tell me when the eggs will be in

or the price of the Times. At peace

with his ignorance, he smiles before he

lifts the paper cup to his lips, the light

in his eyes forgiving my questions,

like a God.