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What the Doctor Said

He said it doesn't look good
he said it looks bad, in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them.
I said Iím glad I wouldn't want to know
about anymore being there than that.
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I am real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else I didn't catch
and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back. It was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who'd just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may even have thanked him, habit being so strong

By Raymond Carver


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