Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

On the banks of the ganges

Susan M. Beck
Fort Collins, Colorado, United States



She told me how her brother died
in a screaming instant of metal and splintering windshield.
She told me in the silence of the exam room,
my brain let go
of Latin names, syndromes,
the architecture of molecules,
which way sodium, and potassium
flow across the ghostly cell membrane.

Prayers meant for the ears of gods rise
from earth— in ether, in anguish—
incantations of repair.

I listen, moving from beat to beat.

There is no window to the soul,
but there is a radio.
I listen to this effortless tune.

I want to understand this heart
when it stops.

Instead of a doctor adrift in knowledge,
I am a child on the edge of the Ganges
throwing petals into holy waters.



SUSAN M. BECK, MD is a family practice physician. Her poetry was published in The Journal of the American Medical Society. Her essays have been published in Hektoen International A journal of medical humanities. She grew up in Colorado and graduated from Bennington College and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Dr. Beck and her family live in Fort Collins, Colorado where she continues to practice medicine since her graduation from residency in 1996.



Summer 2018  |  Sections  |  Poetry


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