"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."
POETRY OF THE TIMES
-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. ❒