Skilcraft Visible Man Anatomy Kit, 1960

"Lost in the anatomy of wonder, moments pass before I catch my mother’s smile while she pretends to dust her shelves..."

Richard Berlin, MD, shares his poem, "Skilcraft Visible Man Anatomy Kit, 1960," which was featured in the 2022 August issue of Psychiatric Times™.

Skilcraft Visible Man Anatomy Kit, 1960

-for my mother, Roslyn Berlin, 1929-2021

Her birthday gift stands on a white,

heart-shaped plinth, his clear plastic hands

hanging by his sides, innocent palms

opened to me like a man saying,

You think I stole your ring?

Search my pockets if you think I stole

your freakin’ ring! Which my ten-year-old

mind finds hilarious, because this mute,

naked, transparent, fifteen-inch-tall model

opens only through an abdominal hatch

I can remove to pluck organs for study—

a rack of golden ribs, porous blue lungs,

heart muscled like steak, tortuous red

arteries snaking from pelvis to toes,

intestines pink as my first sexual blush

when I notice the bulge between his legs.

Lost in the anatomy of wonder, moments

pass before I catch my mother’s smile

while she pretends to dust her shelves.

And when she allows our eyes to meet

my joy from her gift pleases her

more than I can understand

on this birthday she loved to call

my first day of medical school.

Dr Berlin has been writing a poem about his experience of being a doctor every month for the past 24 years in Psychiatric Times™ in a column called “Poetry of the Times.” He is instructor in psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts. His latest book is Freud on My Couch.