Conception

Ron Domen, MD

Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States

Poet’s statement: Being a physician provides very real and intimate encounters with many lives. For the physician who also writes poetry, the poem is an opportunity to capture the seemingly disparate, random particulars of life and of patient’s stories and to seek universal truths. However, most of the poetry I write does not deal directly with medicine as its focus. I am a physician who also happens to write poetry. But, I do feel that the act of writing poetry can help to make one a better listener and observer and ultimately, hopefully, a more humanistic, compassionate, and empathic member of the world at large.

Conception

It is important to know the stories

that surround our conception.

But leave out the part about the hormone

surge that expands the cumulus cells

surrounding the zona pellucida

and prepares the egg for fertilization.

I would rather know if there was passionate

love-making in the back seat of a Ford

at a drive-in movie the rolled up windows

made opaque from your steamy breaths.

And don’t go into detail how sperm

must fight their way through fibrous

macromolecules in cervical mucus

to get to fallopian tube fimbria

where the egg awaits fertilization.

Tell me about the gibbous moon

that rose above the swell of waves

on your honeymoon beach

and like sea turtles hatching

out of the sand and making their way

back to salt water I too

started my journey there on the sand.

And don’t use medical terms like capacitation

or hyperactivation to describe how sperm

must penetrate the zona pellucida

in order to fertilize the egg.

I want to know the details of how

the fog-laden air hung lanuginous

and misty in the park’s twilight

and dew on the grass mixed

with the lustrous sweat on your bodies.

And if you start to tell me about

sperm crossing the egg’s equatorial

segment and membrane fusion followed

by cleavage and embryo implantation

I will wonder about the outside drone

of traffic mingling with the radio’s music

in your bedroom as shadows from streetlights

streaked across the bed and the sound of me

came like the rustle of clothes dropped

to the floor around your feet.

 


RON DOMEN, MD, is Professor of Pathology, Medicine, and Humanities at the Penn State College of Medicine/Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA. He has taught medical humanities to medical students and is also a member of the The Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine at Penn State’s College of Medicine. His poems have appeared in several literary journals and anthologies.