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Poetry and Medicine
September 2, 1998

Child Psychiatrist

Author Affiliations

Edited by Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1998;280(9):760C. doi:10.1001/jama.280.9.760

to Ashwin

From a corner of the office
where sunlight limns the overnight motes
on the blue wooden toy train
and sparks the tin doll house
(the one with the painted ivy around the door),
he steers a pickup truck
towards me—
cross-legged at the other end
of the warm, red-carpeted floor.
Mouth forming vrrroooom
hands convulsed around the cab
like a noose encircling throat.
"I hate this stupid truck.
Do you have a little boy?"
At the kitchen table,
chandelier halos blackbird-wing hair.
My son propels his pencil,
tongue playing hide-and-seek
with the corners of his lips.
His bent head drops shadows
on the Report on Presidents of the United States.
It is due tomorrow.
I need help with Truman, are you tired?
Slumping in the chair nearest him
I massage my unfolded legs.
Through his glasses,
eyebuds of moisture
tendril tight around my guilt.
"I hate this stupid homework.
Did you see many kids today?"