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Poetry and Medicine
June 8, 2011

For Harriet

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to jamapoems@jama-archives.org.

Author Affiliation: Board of the Friends of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, New York, New York (richschiff@earthlink.net).

JAMA. 2011;305(22):2263. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.654

When the dying, in the hands of their rough lover,
open their eyes. When the clouds have cleared
from their pupils, and the rains have washed out
all the bridges. When the clear eyes of death
look into themselves endlessly. And the grasping
is finished, and also the questioning. When gratitude
sets free its colts to bolt and scamper. When the gardener
becomes the garden, and the oak tree remembers the acorn.
When the vanishing is multiplied without ceasing
in the barbershop mirrors of the heart. When the ocean
recapitulates its waves, and the sky recalls the flight of birds.
When everything is fled but love. When the gaze of the dying
meets your own. When nothing is said, or left unsaid.
When you nod and walk out the hospice door,
the day you enter is not the day you left.

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