May 16, 2006

The priests
in their white coats
broach the inner sanctum,
the holiest of holies
of the human heart

sacrifices blemished
with sutures, the yellow
wash of antiseptic.
Contact with the mystery
pumping through us

changes them
in ways the rest of us
(even the shepherds)
can’t understand.
How can we know

when it’s time
to tug on the thread
and reel them back
to the tiled corridors
we nightly walk?

Written by Rachel Barenblat, author of chaplainbook.

  1. May 17, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    Beautiful, Rachel!

  2. May 17, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    Thank you, Peter! I’m so glad you like it.

  3. May 18, 2006 at 4:15 am

    I’m back reading it for the third time. The question it ends with is difficult to parse, in a very satisfying way. Exactly who’s reeling and what’s being reeled in is difficult to say — doctor or shepherd? Patient or heart? I can easily make it mean any of the four permutations of those, and what it means each time shifts — but less than you might expect.

    As Peter said — it’s beautiful.

  4. MB
    May 18, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    I’ve had the same sort of response as Peter and Dale. The poem itself expresses mystery via mystery. Elegantly.

  5. May 22, 2006 at 12:29 pm

    The simplicity of the metaphor and how it perfectly works is stunning every time I’ve come back to read this poem. Dale’s right, it’s either, both, and as your title indicates, perhaps the mystery of healing itself. The care of the other, their heart, their trust, their lovingness, paramount. But knowing when, oh what a question, what a responsibility!

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