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 I’m glad I wouldn’t want to know
about any more 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’m 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 have even thanked him habit being so strong

Analysis, meaning and summary of Raymond Carver's poem What The Doctor Said

2 Comments

  1. Kamal says:

    ……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 want to believe these are the best five lines i’ve ever read in the english language.

  2. Michael Morris says:

    I really do like this poem and the book it comes from, “A New Path From The Waterfall”. I wonder why it is listed under “Miscellaneous” poems. I also wonder why more poems from that book (which thematically connects to this one) are not here. I have in mind, specifically, the poems “Lemonade” and “Gravy.”

    Would like to note the grave injustice that the Norton Anthology has done to Carver. Not only is there no representation of his poetry in their anthologies. They do not even acknowledge that Carver wrote poetry.

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