“A Headlong Act of Love” by Richard Berlin

—  from a line by Pablo Neruda

It was a headlong act of love
when I kissed her.  She was gone.
No one could have saved her.
The dialyzer hummed a little love song.

The way I kissed her (she was gone)
was a reflex, a hand to break my fall.
The dialyzer hummed a little love song.
No one saw us, the curtains were drawn.

It was a reflex, a hand to break my fall.
My mouth was on her lips!
No one saw us, the curtains were drawn.
I’m a man who doesn’t take risks.

My mouth was on her lips!
I closed my eyes, but not for long.
I’m a man who doesn’t take risks.
The corridor was quiet, it was close to dawn.

I closed my eyes, but not for long.
Her lips on mine felt soft and warm.
The corridor was quiet, it was close to dawn.
She was dead, but I sang her a song.

Her lips on mine felt soft and warm.
No one could have saved her.
She was dead.  I sang her a song—
It was a headlong act of love.

Richard M. Berlin is a physician and poet who received his undergraduate and medical education at Northwestern University. The winner of numerous poetry awards, his first collection of poems How JFK Killed My Father won the Pearl Poetry Prize and was published by Pearl Editions. His second collection of poetry, Secret Wounds won the 2010 John Ciardi Poetry Prize from the University of Missouri – Kansas City and was published by BkMk Press.  In addition,  Secret Wounds was chosen as the best poetry book published in America by the USA Book News Awards 2011.  He is also the author of two poetry chapbooks, Code Blue and The Prophecy. Berlin’s poetry has been published in a broad array of anthologies, literary journals, and medical journals including his column “Poetry of the Times,” which has been featured for more than twelve years in Psychiatric Times. He has also established a creative writing prize in honor of his father for medical students, nursing students, and resident physicians at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. A Senior Affiliate of Psychiatry at the medical school, he is the author of more than sixty scientific papers and has edited Sleep Disorders in Psychiatric Practice and Poets on Prozac: Mental Illness, Treatment, and the Creative Process. He practices psychiatry in a small town in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts.