Symptoms from the Doctor

book cover Campo

Here’s a poem by American poet/physician  Raphael Campo:

What the Body Told

By Rafael Campo


Not long ago, I studied medicine.

It was terrible, what the body told.

I’d look inside another person’s mouth,

And see the desolation of the world.

I’d see his genitals and think of sin.


Because my body speaks the stranger’s language,

I’ve never understood those nods and stares.

My parents held me in their arms, and still

I think I’ve disappointed them; they care

And stare, they nod, they make their pilgrimage


To somewhere distant in my heart, they cry.

I look inside their other-person’s mouths

And see the wet interior of souls.

It’s warm and red in there—like love, with teeth.

I’ve studied medicine until I cried


All night. Through certain books, a truth unfolds.

Anatomy and physiology,

The tiny sensing organs of the tongue—

Each nameless cell contributing its needs.

It was fabulous, what the body told.





<a href=””>Symptom</a&gt;

Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

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