Poetry of the Times Our Medical Marriage
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.