Abby Caplin

Depression Session

Abby Caplin


The chopped apple of her father’s eye,
She tastes the grapes of her mother’s drunken wrath
The barely visible slivers of silver-tongued almond
Needle her intestines as she savors
The seedless watermelon of fruitless friendships,
And endures the hard rind 
Of a body gone awry, 
To be chewed and chewed until swallowed or
Spat out. A salad of sorts
Surrounded by lemons
Home-grown, organic, bitter
And full of juice. She brings me a tough
Clear plastic bag filled with them
To our session.
“They’re the last of the season,” she tells me.
I pray this is true,
While at home, I pore through cookbooks, 
Searching for yet another recipe. 

About the poet:

Abby Caplin MD MA practices mind-body medicine and counseling in San Francisco. She helps people living with chronic medical conditions to lead empowered and vibrant lives, reclaiming their wholeness despite illness ( Abby also offers a weblog, Permission to Heal, for people who are “up in the middle of the night or down in the middle of the day” because of illness.

About the poem:

When sitting with clients, I hold the space to hear …

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First Night Call

Abby Caplin

During my first night on call as an intern, I felt scared. Not just scared–terrified. I was serving on the medical center’s pediatric oncology floor, and medical school hadn’t prepared me for children with cancer. What did I know about cutting-edge chemotherapy regimens? What if a child suddenly developed an overwhelming infection or a seizure triggered by a tumor? Someone would expect me to know what to do.

“It’s okay,” said Brad, the second-year resident. “The nurses do everything. You just treat the kids’ hypertension.”

“How?” I asked.

“Hydralazine,” he answered, glancing at his watch. He looked tired and ready to split. “Ten to twenty milligrams IV every four hours.” When I looked up from my hasty scribbling, he was gone. I was alone.

For reassurance, I touched the small but reliable pediatric handbook in my white coat pocket. My other pocket was stuffed with index cards, each labeled with a patient’s name, diagnosis and quantities of information written in my tiny print.

I looked down the hall towards the spill of light at the nursing station, the darkening corridors lined with rooms of sick children all trying to sleep–or at least not vomit from the chemotherapy.

I …

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