WHEN WE WERE ONE

Back in 1984, when I attended the Humanities in Medicine Conference sponsored by the William Carlos WIlliams Competition, I read this poem along with six others. After the reading, Richard Selzer walked up to me and in reference to the juxtaposition of  birth and death in this poem proclaimed, “From such callow youth!” while clasping both hands over his heart. I was so callow at the time that I had to look up the word “callow.”

=======================================

WHEN WE WERE ONE

It was a chance meeting

in the night that brought

me together, my two halves

became whole within you.

As I grew, suspended

in time, zygote to

blastomere, morula

to blastocyst, embryo

to fetus; I had no

awareness, no sense

of the journey

just begun. Floating

within your ontogenous

sea, your body

enveloped, your warmth

sustained; we were one.

.

But those waters have long since broken and we are oceans

apart, now. I search within

for those lost memories, a sense of

how it felt; for this is what death

must be like, a reversal

of the process, a sucking back

into the womb, quiet,

dark, effortless. A shrinking

back through time

as each cell of life decays

then recombines, dissolving

into fluid, flowing

into waves.

©1984 Kurt Biehl

About Køt Biehl

I am a psychiatrist in private practice with 25 years experience in multiple settings including long-term inpatient, acute inpatient, partial hospitalization, outpatient, hospital consultation, long term psychodynamic psychotherapy, brief psychotherapy, and even electroconvulsive therapy. I am board certified in general psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine. My interests are many. I bore easily. I am fascinated by shamanic healing, particle physics, quantum theory, Schubert, Brahms, Schoenberg, Jung, Reik, Pynchon, Proust, Mark Strand, John Berryman, Richard Feinman, Wharhol, Pollock, Kandinsky, Miro, audiophile stereo reproduction, rocks on the beach, and small shiny objects.
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