I became a doctor the day Mom called
to ask, what should she do
about him found face down on the front lawn in the summer heat
just sleeping drunk or
oh God what if it’s worse what if it’s
And what about the way my smile doesn’t look the same and these
spots that have appeared?
Medical advice for free (or really just paid in advance with
diapers from a colicky infant
and night classes
to make ends meet.)
My inexperienced second opinion and I’d never say out loud I’m
relieved when the internist agrees.
I scold Dad now
who used to snarl
MUST you swing your legs under the table at dinner?
(to me too small to reach the floor when seated
and fearing him displeased)
Strict instructions to reduce his sweets and those mixed nuts that are full of fat that’s not bad fat like a
Twinkie but still fat
that gut has got to go!
for your back and knees and blood pressure and
Sheepishly staring at the floor.
Doctor is the name for not a child
but not a parent
hiding your fear for their sake
and helping with math problems like
3500 calories is a pound of fat and if 150 is 30 points too high for the top number
where are we aiming?
And for speaking a foreign tongue to be secretive and sound important
or other times translating big words into little ones,
answering questions like
how long will this pain go on?
I promise to behave I promise
Are we there yet?
when they heard something said they didn’t understand about themselves
or a friend who is ailing.
Medicine is rational.
But it makes no sense for me to be in charge
when I’m the child still growing up not sure what the answer is
and not old enough for them to not yet
They are waiting for my definitive reply.
Of course it’s the truth
because you should believe what your parents say
and also the doctor.