At the Residential School Team Conference

June 2, 2008
Richard M. Berlin, MD

Volume 25, Issue 7

Poetry of the times

The principal turns to the student and says,
"I am here for the educational piece,
Mr Tan is here for the cottage piece,
Ms McMillan is here for the drug abuse piece,
Dr Berlin is here for the psych piece,
and you are the puzzle we're putting together,"
which makes me think of the thousand pieces
of Manhattan I assembled last summer
in a cottage on an island far out to sea,
wind blowing at 39 knots, swells rising
10 feet, the mail boat gone for the week,
and that scene of the city from high above
on a cloudless day, the corner where he deals
crack, the alley where his mother nods
with a needle in her arm, and his father
on the piece that is missing. But I hate
puzzles, the way each choice constrains
the next until you've re-created nothing
more than the picture on the box.
I'd rather think of this team as shipwreck survivors
stroking hard toward a distant lighthouse,
roped together in Arctic water, knowing
if one of us sinks, everyone drowns.