Our Medical Marriage

June 1, 2005

Poetry of the Times Our Medical Marriage

Psychiatric Times

June 2005

Vol. XXII

Issue 7

--for Susanne

We kneeled on the bookstore floor

two students scanning the bodies

of new books, checking out

each other's Principles

of Internal Medicine.

Scores of textbooks later

we're a pair of pagers and missed dinners,

companions in sleep-deprived nights.

We suffered the long delay

before our only child while we ran

to slashed wrists and ODs,

sprinted from half-read journal

to school play to board meeting.

In conversation long as summer light

we talked patients and drugs,

recited the simple prayers of dying,

learned how we both took medicine

as a life-long lover.

One hushed June evening in mid-life

scented rose and thick with fire-flies,

the phone steals her.

I sit with my half-filled glass

and a life we knew we were choosing,

our marriage a joining of two strains

of mint, planted close, cross-pollinated

to form a single type, the small, unfailing

flowers arrayed in purple spikes

I can see most clearly

when I'm down on my knees.

Dr. Berlin is associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Berlin's book How JFK Killed My Father won the Pearl Poetry Prize 2002 and was published by Pearl Editions in September 2003.