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Ten Clinics


Dad is angry

he yells and tells


how it is;

stridently informs me what is wrong with society and consequently, with me

We part,

having never met


she told me what happened, years ago

Today the room smells thickly, and


of sweat;

fetid excretions of anxiety

she cries after the exam

(at first, I don’t notice, I’m busy charting)

I long to hold her and tell her, I know,

my love,

I know


chronic abdominal pain deteriorating mental health substance use contraception pelvic exam poverty suspect abuse

fifteen minutes

medical student

at least the chest pressure is mine alone


Abruptly, he turns to my resident, and tells him,

“she saved my life, you know”

Without thinking,

I place one hand on his shoulder

and the other on his wrist,

and leave them there,

for a moment,

feeling his body heat through my gloves

I look into his eyes, set in a face far older than its years, and

smile at him, forgetting that he can’t see it

behind my mask

“you know you did,” he says to me


After-hours clinic

urgent CT scan ordered

await result


my ear is hot; burning hot

the phone,

crushing it to my skull for endless, terrible minutes

I know what I must do

It will be a long time, before I stop hearing the weeping of a desolate soul

No please,

please don’t,

please don’t

I call 911 anyway

my chest sucks inward from the pressure


He masks his terror with rage,

furious that I, alone, cannot fix him,

Desperately seeking to be cured,

he berates me

for failing to come up with a suitable solution

He is dying, he is angry, and I am not helping him;

at least we agree on that


I call her and notice that I have

involuntarily spread my hands wide, palms up;

they are empty

Fortunately, she cannot see me

through the phone-line

So, I conjure,

making plans, knowing that none of us can put her back together

we can only hold her pieces, and cherish them as best we can,

Little treasures


I return from a long consult to see the


CT report

from after-hours

sitting on my keyboard

I pick up the phone

Yes, he is alone

(oh, that makes it harder)

Yes, he is sitting down

The whole time, I imagine him

has he perched on a chair in the front hall?

reached the couch? his bed?

is he hunched forward with his head in his hands?

does he have a dog to pat?

are there tears in his eyes?

I promise to call him again next week

He thanks me; it sounds so wrong


The mammogram is abnormal and a

biopsy is required

The phone receiver in its cradle,

connected to the keypad by its forever-tangled cord

We stare at each other, the touch-tone

phone, and I

I call her on speaker

and spin the hope she deserves

From my empty spool

Dr. Meghan Wilson is a family physician in Kingston, Ontario.

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These are beautiful, sad, and much more. They bring up a lot of emotion. Thanks for sharing your gift with us.

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