The Identified Patient
– Poem by Brit Lizabeth Lippman –
What brings you here? I ask.
My name badge tugs at my thin floral blouse
asking me the same question.
My name has sorrow written before it and letters written after,
and both of those things have brought me here.
The Identified Patient speaks of symptoms
as I place check marks in boxes:
One for insomnia
One for irritability
One for appetite loss.
Is this normal?
They want to know.
Maybe they are asking:
Is pain a symptom or a side effect of living?
I will let them know when I have the answer.
I look at the person sitting across from me.
Sorrow came before them and strength came after,
and both of those things have brought them here.
They play with the tear in their jeans,
picking at the white threads like it’s their job:
One for what happened yesterday
One for tomorrow’s catastrophe
One for the discomfort of right now.
I wonder if they’ve noticed the person sitting across from them.
I am picking at my broken fingernails
as I sit poised postured and decorated in my blazer.
If we both stop picking,
how strongly will we feel the stillness move us?
I ask the Identified Patient,
How will you cope?
An out-loud conversation about skills ensues
as we silently whisper about being people,
and our human bodies diverge at the door
when time’s up.
About the Author – Brit Lizabeth Lippman
Brit Lizabeth Lippman is a psychologist currently working with young adults. She graduated from NYU, where she studied Applied Psychology and Creative Writing in Spanish, and went on to earn her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Hofstra University. As a child, she was a perfectionist and a sensitive soul. As an adult, she remains exactly the same way. Her work as both a poet and a psychologist focuses on understanding and honoring the complexity of the human condition. In her poetry, she often hopes to blur the dichotomies between science and art, between “expert” and “patient,” and shed light on the experience of being a person amidst other people. This is Brit’s first published poem. When she is not busy tackling life’s most sensitive subject matter, she can usually be found laughing at her own jokes and finding a bit of humor in everything.
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The damsel in distress was not for me
In the Blink of an Eye, Risk Taking, Afterfall
In Time I’ll Thank Shamon
The Space I Take
The Worst Drunk Poem I’ve Ever Written
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