"What a Psychiatrist Remembers"

Publication
Article
Psychiatric TimesVol 40, Issue 2

"I remember sitting like my patients when time expired, entire lives grasped in a 50 minute hour..."

psychiatrist

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POETRY OF THE TIMES

I remember rain hammering a green tin roof,

the light at each prescribed hour.


I remember perfumes and anxious sweat,

who preferred the big leather chair


and who liked to hide in the sofa’s corner.

I remember watching hairlines recede,


weight gained and lost from faces

like snow drifted high and melted by sunlight.


I remember empty men who devoured my words

and those too full of themselves.


I remember invisible families

I could describe as if gazing at an old photo,


how people rehearsed new lines

as if I was a stage in a foreign city.


I remember women and men on fire

and the frozen who needed me for kindling.


I remember forgetting

a session with a man whose words


whipped me like his father’s belt,

my small amnesias for anniversaries,


who said what when,

and how much my lapses hurt them.


I remember sitting like my patients

when time expired,


entire lives grasped in a 50 minute hour,

how at baffled moments


I leaned too far back in my rocker

and knew the fear of falling.


Richard Berlin

Dr Berlin has been writing a poem about his experience of being a doctor every month for the past 25 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.


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