The Proposition

February 3, 2010
Richard M. Berlin, MD
Volume 27, Issue 2

Years ago I wrote, “I love my patients,

Years ago I wrote, “I love my patients,

not as a group but one by one,”

never thinking a time would come

when a patient would read my poem

back to me and offer her love.

But I had rehearsed my reply

many times: “Yes, strong feelings

are part of treatment, and I am glad

you are telling me,” though I was

already planning a consultation

with a colleague. And I was preparing

for her rage, wishing love could be

as simple as radioactive sugar

I’ve seen on lovers’ PET scans,

glucose surging into cells,

the brain lit up in primary colors,

another hungry organ

determined to be satisfied.