Skilcraft Visible Man Anatomy Kit, 1960

Psychiatric Times, Vol 39, Issue 8,

"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. ❒