The One

Psychiatric Times, Vol 38, Issue 2, Volume 02,

And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water...


A hundred skaters in Christmas red
circle the lake, bonfire smoke in the air,
novices laughing before blade tips catch
and knees kiss ice, my eyes searching
for the one skater in every crowd who glides
graceful as a god, like my father years ago
in his black leather racing skates, long blades
grabbing ice when he tucked low and tight,
left arm behind his back, right arm beating
time as he carved heavenly arcs, disciples
sailing fast in his draft as they followed.

And since it is Christmas, my eyes search
the crowd for Jesus, the one who walked
on the Sea of Galilee without needing water
to freeze, another Jew who davened
in a prayer shawl like my father’s and chanted
the Sh’mah. I can see them skating together,
my father’s red scarf, Jesus’ tunic a shiver
of light as they mirror each other’s form,
an ache in their ankles, their joy of speed
and wind and rhythm before they fell,
two young men in search of miracles.

Dr Berlin has been writing a poem about his experience of being a doctor every month for the past 23 years in Psychiatric TimesTM in a column called “Poetry of the Times.” He is instructor in psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA.