The Visit

I greet you in my clinic, with a smile behind my mask

How are you feeling today, the standard question I ask

I focus on the usual, physical complaints

I want to ask you something else, but myself I restrain

I ask you if you’re exercising, eating right

Taking your medications as prescribed

Behind your mask, your true feelings are inscrutable

I’m quickly satisfied when you say yes, that is an answer suitable

Now the elephant in the room both of us can ignore

We proceed with the visit as we have done before..

**

What I want to ask you, and believe me, I do,

Is how are you really feeling mentally and emotionally too…

When I ask you to breathe deeply for examination

Does the phrase “I can’t breathe” invade your imagination?

I ask you how much exercise you get daily

But I want to ask you if you felt well walking at the rally…

I ask you if you have been eating right

But I want to ask you if anger has killed your appetite

Conversations about the pandemic were somewhat difficult I thought,

But what you’re going through now is so profound that I dare not

Bring it up, because I am ill prepared for such conversations

So I have been treating the issue with skillful evasion..

When you admit your compliance has been subpar

We blame it on the pandemic, the easiest excuse by far..

**

We wrap up the visit in a sterile, clinical way

I cannot even shake your hands these days to convey

My concern for your well-being, though I know

You are hurting, the lack of luster in your eyes does show

**

I go back to my desk, in dissatisfaction

At my inability to have a meaningful interaction

Conversations around race are some of the hardest
Maybe more so in a physician-patient context 
But my silence on this matter makes me complicit
I promise, I shall find a way to address it next visit..

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