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Poetry and Medicine
July 27, 2011

One Giant Leap

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to

Author Affiliation: Medical Faculty Associates, George Washington University, Washington, DC (

JAMA. 2011;306(4):353. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.852

At first all I see is black and white static
like the nervous energy
my wife and I feel inside as our captain
our doctor, without speaking
toggles the probe up and down and side to side
deftly surveying terrain.
The seconds tick by, the gravity of fear
pulling me down in my seat.
Until—Houston, the ultrasound has landed!
As the dust clears we see it
reflected against the black of inner space
a truly breathtaking site
a redefinition of our private world
7 months away from touch
stuff of ancestors, stars long dead, summed up in
a beating, flickering heart.
Boundless joy, and a little fear, all at once.
You can just make out limb buds
the doctor points as my wife and I—weightless
hold onto each other's hand.

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