November 13, 2005



There are worse ways to be remembered:
a manilla folder in a file clerk’s hand,
a mug shot behind the detective's desk,
a floating corpse in a flooded stream
a broken gravestone in the cemetery soon grated over for an interstate.

You’re remembered now.
Not by your dead parents: alcoholic,
or your brother: still drinking every morning, noon and night,
or your sister: shooting up.
a "wild catter" from the oilfields of West Texas,
who partied as much as you could
until shooting up speed gave you Hep C
40 years old, and you didn't know what else to do.

You’re remembered now.
by doctors: as methodology,
by actors: a case study to memorize
and by med students: a way to practice interviewing.

What would happen if you loaded the happy people on one side of a scale
and put the unhappy people on the other?
Would the happy people even move it,
make it budge?
Stuck at the top looking down even the happy would become unhappy
when they saw how miserable,
hopeless people are,
tipping the scales towards misery,
tipping it so far one way
it makes you wonder why I even offered up another option
or used the image of a scale to make a point.

and if only for the few minutes
I, the actor, look at the med students
and answer, in monotone, as you would Casey,
"I don't know what difference quitting drinking now would do."
I offer you and me some peace.
Your life is honored by the doctor who wrote the case
and valued by the med students who now know that life is hard,
and remembered by the standardized patient playing you,
who feels depressed and hopeless
at the end of the day
because he identified with you too much.

November 9, 2005

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