Steady Hand

Love + Medicine Steady Hand

Steady Hand

The Bris. The celebration of removal of foreskin
The first of his covenants with our Creator
Not in the presumed sterility of hospital walls
But done in one’s home surrounded by family and deli

Some choose to step back
Shout out the obligatory “mazel tov” on cue.
Others crowd around close to the makeshift surgical center
All are subject to the litany of moyel jokes that muster up an awkward chuckle

No one is as queasy as the infant’s father
Sweating, praying for a steady hand.
Questioning why didn’t we do this in the hospital, where it’s “clean”
Beginning to question why to do this at all,
Take a knife to his son, only 8 days on this Earth

Sucking on gauze soaked in Manishewitz,  the child lies peacefully
Placed on a pillow held by the Godfather, the highest of honors
He is then handed over to the  moyel who slices off the foreskin
The piece of flesh left on the table for burial In the yard.

As the generations before and the generations after,
Jews celebrate this act
Recognize the solemnity of the day
Feel a sense of tradition, respect and honor it

For the mother and father it marks a milestone
Of trusting and letting go
Loving, forgiving and coveting this child.
Always hoping for that steady hand

– Anne Koplin, M.D.

Somebody Turn on the Game



The football shrine in my bedroom
The football shrine in my bedroom

Not sure how many of you know about my love for football. I know, sounds incongruous to my nature. It is a passion of mine and passions are healthy. I won’t talk about the medical dangers; focusing on the Love not the Medicine. Right now I just need to vent.

I am a latecomer to the sport, my interest started in 1992. My dear friend in Israel, Vivian, casually said, “I think you would really like football. There’s this guy, Brett Favre…”

She met me a few weeks later in Tel Aviv at 3am, and we watched the Broncos beat the Packers in the Superbowl.  She patiently explained what a first down is, before there were yellow lines to mark it. As I started watching, my memory was jogged and I recalled my mom screaming at the TV, following her beloved Packers and Wisconsin Badgers. It was totally unrelatable. My dad had no interest. Her last words, the day she died were “somebody turn on the game” and then she was gone.

So, basically I have become quite the football fanatic. I bet every week, with my Vivian, on 7 games against the spread. We are the only women in a large football pool and we are quite good.  No judging! Our winnings one year paid for my son’s Bar Mitzvah.

Let’s talk about yesterday’s game when the Packers lost to the Arizona Cardinals in the divisional playoffs.  We were 7 point underdogs and had lost badly to Arizona weeks ago. We played with heart. Rodgers’ Hail Mary with no time left was epic. The excitement in the frigid air was palpable. You couldn’t help but think: here we are in 1 degree, wind chills of -20 and they are in Arizona, couldn’t we at least have another game to look forward to as we face the winter??? But instead, two plays later in overtime, it was over. How do you leave Larry Fitzgerald open? Such short elation time! Such a tease.

We would have gone all the way if we had won that game. Now our season is over. And winter just got a few degrees colder.


There was a Space. Part 1

I always wanted a screened in porch, a four season room. The outside of a house always interested me more than the inside. True zen, I believe, can only be found in nature.

In this poem, I parallel the changes in nature to the transformation going on between two lovers.

There Was A Space. Part I

There was a space shared. After the transition
from meetings in cafes, restaurants and such.
A place where strangers became lovers, the tide shifted to intimacy
It was the place where the journey continued, out of public eye.

An all season room, built lovingly over a period of years,
added on to a nondescript box of a house.
The one room that best captured the grounded spirit of its creator
Beams of solid wood and windows floor to ceiling
Wicker furniture, crystals, an ashtray
Floor unfinished, rough cement
A mini swinging door to accommodate the cats

The sunroom, for winter, crackling fires in the potbelly stove perched on cinder blocks
Sipping tea or red wine. Sharing stories, laughing or sitting silently, always touching. For hours.
Reaching into the basket for wood, replenishing the flames
At times making love, far too cozy to climb the steps to the bedroom.

The sunroom, for spring, watching the flowers burst through the earth
Every day looking for new pops of color
Listening to the river, water rhythmically rolling down the rocks, breaking up the ice.
Each stone in the water’s path placed thoughtfully to create the perfect sound

The sunroom, for summer, a cacophony of scents and color and sounds
Strolling in naked after showering, heat bearing down
Watching the birds as they delight in bathing in the cool, shallow river
Observing the cats, such hedonists, sprawled out in sunny spots

The sunroom, for fall, the swapping of color,
Screens replaced with glass as the wind shifts
Leaves changing and drying and shedding
The anticipation of winter, of turning inward

The sunroom, for lovers, a hidden oasis
A place unplugged, where feelings moved from simple attraction to soaring love
Where daily miracles outside in nature were fully paralleled inside
Two unlikely individuals, one earth and one water, merged to became one

Then the room was gone, like a hostile takeover
He, adept at handling the trauma of sudden loss, silently accepted his fate
She, incredulous, vowed to fight, to get it back.
His passivity was maddening
He insisted “it doesn’t matter where we are!”

The future of the lovers almost instantly became fuzzy and uncertain
Although they vowed not to attach to stones, they had lost their bearings
How much of it was space dependent
“A new start” he declared and she was threatened
Their fate yet undetermined.

screenedporch 2-2