When We Were One

Back in 1984, I gave a poetry reading at the Humanities in Medicine Conference sponsored by the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine (NEOUCOM) and the William Carlos Williams Poetry Competition. After the reading, the Yale surgeon physician-writer Richard Selzer walked up to me, placed both his hands over his heart, and  proclaimed, “From such callow youth!”

I was so callow at the time that I had to look up the word “callow.”

This is the poem he was referring to.



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. Then, a shrinking

back through time

as each cell of life decays

and 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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1 Response to When We Were One

  1. Julianne Biehl says:

    Just reread this. I had always thought it was beautiful. Love, Mom   www.colormejulianne.com

    “The thing about art is that life never becomes meaningless.”  Robert Genn, May 2014 “Why talk when you can paint?” Milton Avery

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