Satisfied To Be Us

Satisfied To Be Us

To be anywhere in the world
in any weather, to hold a book
like a child does and [moving] moves
from here to the flanks of the Vosges,
stares at a fresco by Piero
or hears an aria float out from a window
on the Coronation Route in Prague.

How fine it is to be us, to be
on the water, our thoughts as slippery,
as fluid, our moods like gusts [of dopamine]
little zephyrs of enticement,
our happiness rising and setting
with the sun, the bright seal of hope
the dimming lamp of rest.

How fine to feel our tears
washed away by rain [on our faces], our gray hairs
rearranged by a passing bus,
our lips moist with expectation,
with savor, with judgement,
with the aroma of a lover [in the city]
coming to bed and planting a kiss.

How fine to stand up and cheer
with thousands, to wave at the flag
as it passes, to breathe the air of mountains
to sit down and rest with a bottle of wine
and watch fir trees line the crest like teeth
in a comb, to feel the need to pray [there]
alone [or with others], to admit to gratitude.

How fine it is to be us, so satisfied
to be [alive] anywhere in the world,
with our aching knees, our sodden breath,
and a heart that beats: the dead do not dream,
like a thief, they are lost in themselves
and see nothing else, [heaven is closed]
the death of anyone is the death of the world.


Michael Salcman is a poet, physician and art historian, was born in Pilsen Czechoslovakia. He is a child of the Holocaust and a polio survivor. Salcman grew up on East 7th Street in Brooklyn between Foster Avenue and Avenue H. He is the author of 200 scientific articles and six medical books. He served as chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. He lectures widely about art and the brain. Among many other journals poems appear in Arts & Letters, The Cafe ReviewHarvard Review, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, Notre Dame Review, Ontario Review, Panygyrus and Solstice. Featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily and All Things Considered, his work has received six nominations for a Pushcart Prize. Salcman is the editor of Poetry in Medicine, a popular anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness & healing, used in courses on Narrative Medicine (Persea Books, 2015). His collections include The Clock Made of Confetti (Orchises, 2007), nominated for The Poets’ Prize, The Enemy of Good is Better (Orchises, 2011) and A Prague Spring, Before & After (2016), winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize from Evening Street Press. His latest collection, Shades & Graces (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020) is the inaugural winner of the Daniel Hoffman Legacy Book Prize. He is Special Lecturer in the Osher Institute at Towson University.

[image: Brandon Montrone]

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