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Poetry and Medicine
August 24/31, 2011


Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: Department of Literature, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland (

JAMA. 2011;306(8):804. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.995

Seeds stir as he shelters her beneath quilts
or coaxes her cracked mouth with a violet sweet.
They germinate in her veins, twine to the hilt,
sap her as they spread and sprout and smother. Eat,
he prays, weeding the allotment's choked growth,
or simmering the tender broth he learned
in France, that sunlit summer of his oath.
He wipes away bile, soothes her burning
skin, cradles her as he lifts her to see
the last sweet peas, honeysuckle, evergreens.
Surging to embrace her, blossoms of cells
sob for her lost richness. Desperate to root,
bereft, tendrils bloated as famished fruit,
blooms strangle in love: our source, our all, farewell.

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