Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Events of the Day – The Date I Will Never Have

Michael Wynn
Salem, Oregon, USA

Poet’s statement: My medical writing is informed by my fascination with how humans accept and sometimes deny reality.


Events of the day
Tomorrow I will tell Mr. Smith,
who is compulsively tidy,
that he has Parkinson’s disease,and say “epilepsy” to Mr. Alexander,
the 27-year-old  trucker
who might have to pull over at 28,before I listen to Ms. Jones
describe her headaches, memory loss,
and insomnia which, if truth be told,as it sometimes is in medicine, stem
from the abuse she suffered
before she was twelve.A lunch of humble pie—a fortunate familiarityfollowed by more patient stories
each ornamented with symptoms
like the altar of a baroque chapel.

Before my drive home
past fields of daffodils,
their irrational yellow celebrating

renewable discovery, an afternoon cup
(dopamine would help) at the café
filled with people blind to their beauty.



Daffodils and trees by Michael Patterson






The date I will never have

I want a sit-down with
nitrogen and carbon
the tinker toys of  skin,
lips, and low voices—
knuckles, toenails, and muscles,
to explain how we make a difference.

Maybe a neuron will meet me for coffee
or better yet a bone-dry martini—
a twist, one olive.
I’ll plead humanity’s case.

Ask him to stop the games
with his neuron friends
and take a break from seeding tumors,
strokes, and starting Alzheimer’s.

Doesn’t he know tomorrow’s recital
is a big deal?
Granddaughter expects
a three-layer cake
for next week’s birthday?
Uncle Al planned their vacation for a year?

After we enjoy our drinks
the little dictator will lightly
place his dendrites
on my hand to reassure me.
            We do our thing.
            You just worry about doing yours.
I’ll pick up the tab.


MICHAEL WYNN, DO is a neurologist practicing in Salem, Oregon since 1997. After residency at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland, he completed a stroke fellowship and became board certified in vascular neurology. His poetry has been published in or is in press with The Cortland Review, Untitled Country Review, JAMA, and Neurology.


Highlighted in Frontispiece Fall 2011 – Volume 3, Issue 3

Fall 2011  |  Sections  |  Poetry

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