the most important thing

Psychiatry 2: Student Daze – Poem 13 

a final-year student
is acting as our guide
to the units that comprise
our institution

between mental retardation wards
known as children’s cottages
and psycho-geriatric wards
he instructs
on the critical knowledge
we will need
to survive our training
and to care
for our patients

you have to remember

he says

to wipe
away from the vagina
when you’re cleaning up
a female patient

you might cause an infection



© Frank Prem, 2016

Next: pecking order

Notes on: the most important thing


4 thoughts on “the most important thing

  1. Hello Frank, I been reading this series, deeply engaged in your experiences. You might remember me from swimming with elephants monthly feature, you paid a kind comment to my poem “THE FUTURE IS A PAINTED SKELETON” … I do not have dry eyes when reading these poems. I have been to psychiatric units a couple times for meltdowns, I am autistic. Ill bet you’ve cared for autistics. I am lucky that times have changed. I also have parents who worked in hopsital settings caring for mentally ill and disabled patients. My mother was a nurse, my father worked in the laundry room, this was during the Vietnam war. Under ‘insane’ conditions were when my parents met, and I suppose some kernel of that experience left its impression on our genes. My older brother is autistic and been institutionalized for practically his whole life, and now is in prison, which as per his reports seems to be better than the psychiatric ones. I have a whole stack of poems written about this world we share. While reading yours I thought of mine, and then, that is when I cried. Thank you for reading my poetry, I look foward to reading more of yours

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Hilary. That was a great piece over at Elephants.

      These things – psychiatric conditions, autism, and others – are so very difficult to expose adequately for someone not affected directly by them. I sat on my poems for a long time before publishing them here, because I couldn’t fathom what/where the right place to put them might be, and yet they seemed such very important stories.

      Yours and your brothers and your family story must be a difficult one and I applaud you for writing, and for publishing and sharing. I’ll look forward to reading more.




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