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"...barriers that create space for healing placed close enough to hear everyone’s cries of longing and love..."
POETRY OF THE TIMES
I’m revising my med student lecture notes
on Models for the Doctor-Patient Relationship
and the attitudes I want them to master: detached
concern, therapeutic distance, good boundaries.
But something is missing from my models,
and I think back to a post-op dairy farmer
too weak to milk The Girls, and his neighbor
who cares for them in a barn a mile away.
For weeks they cry out for family and familiar stalls,
and my patient cries with them, But as I got better,
I missed my Girls even more, and one night
they escaped from my neighbor
and wandered back home. He laughs,
It’s a good thing my neighbor has tender fences.
Yes! Tender Fences, will be my model—
barriers that create space for healing
placed close enough to hear everyone’s
cries of longing and love, a boundary
strong enough to hold tight before it bends,
yielding in time to get back home.
Dr Berlin has been writing a poem about his experience of being a doctor every month for the past 24 years in Psychiatric TimesTM in a column called “Poetry of the Times.” He is instructor in psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts. ❒