Saturday Poem

The Laying on of Hands

Priests offered it in weekly benedictions to bless
after chants and motets, in Eucharist
or Mass, to magnify a union or to heal
the sick. Doves were sometimes released.

Lovers do it too. The caresss—careless or casual.
The home from work, the comfort me, or the moment
when hands become all scent and skin; the arch of wrist,
the smooth palm and pure white fingertip.

So doctors learned it, palpated sick limbs, guaged temperatures,
pulses; probed chests, abdomens and necks to fathom symptoms,
interrogate signs. But now machines seek better, deeper,
further, filling the walls with images, bright and cold.

by Danielle Hope
from Jama (Journal of the American medical Association)
Vol. 301 No. 4; Jan. 28, 2009