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Poetry and Medicine
September 7, 2011


Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: Ballard Pediatric Clinic, Seattle, Washington (tmcmahon@u.washington.edu).

JAMA. 2011;306(9):917. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1196

This morning, on our walk between rain squalls
we circled the lake at the head of the Cayou Valley.
There, amidst an insistence of flickers, a burble
of robins, the rusty scrape of the red-winged blackbird,
we happened upon a black-feathered shape, which flew up
at our approach, into the trees. Where it had been,
what had seemed a rumpled blanket,
was a doe, no more than two days dead.
Ribs furled around a thorax
empty of lungs, empty of heart, open
to the thin mist of rain. And the ribs themselves,
pink and clean of meat, a lesson in anatomy taught
by the bald scavenger waiting above, waiting
to resume his lecture on our shared fate.

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