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Editor's Comments on 'Son&Father'

 , November 16, 2015

When a patient is sick, the whole healthcare team’s highest calling is to shelter even the smallest hope for recovery and fan the embers of health back to flame. However, there are days that call (particularly on the doctor) to take another course – to inform patients of sad probabilities with stark honesty. In her piece “Son&Father," Ariana Levin, a medical student at Weill Cornell Medical College, focuses on the patient perspective moments before and after the delivery of bad news.  It’s not a commentary on how providers can communicate better, which is often where the conversation turns among physicians and trainees (Ariana artfully sketches the physician with but a gesture and an opening phrase). Instead, the poem imagines with brittle clarity what a bad prognosis means for families: hope followed by a despair too wild for the sterile consultation room, where a father “grips” and “careens” on “neutral upholstery, / Placed tastefully but too far / From its parchment paper brethren.”

Benji Perin