“The Origin of Light” by Jack Coulehan

Jack Coulehan


For a thousand years, the nature of light
was a source of debate, a question
that split the learned, who wondered if sight
originated as a beam coming in
from outside-the sun-or as a substance
generated inside, a stuff we shoot
out, to bathe the world and its occupants?
Curious. I never knew of this dispute
until a patient, about week before he died
of cancer, told me the story of Ali
al-Hasan, the curious man who tried
staring into the sun for as long as he
could take it. When the pain became too sharp
to stand, he understood, but it was dark.

from Rattle #16, Winter 2001


Jack Coulehan: “As an internist and medical professor, I didn’t know how to search for what was missing in life until poetry came along. And bam! There it was. When you take the time to really look and listen to the patients, it becomes obvious that there is a relationship between poetry and medicine, yet these two arts seem to be polar opposites in our society. Why is that? How can that be?”

Rattle Logo