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.
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.