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Poetry and Medicine
October 5, 2011

Healing Into Hell

Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: First Department of Medicine, San Matteo Hospital School of Medicine, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy (a.disabatino@smatteo.pv.it).

JAMA. 2011;306(13):1416. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1305

For Massimo Pinzani,painter and physician

You tell me time heals a broken heart,
the fibres striving to weave together
its two halves ripped apart by pain.
   I feel the fibres at work inside me,
   their tangled sponge-like form
   darkening the sunlit chamber of my poet's heart.
I am happy, drunk with joy,
the pain dulls, the burning subsides,
I am filled with my soul's infinite breath.
   I feel the fibres at work inside me,
   like slithering reptiles dancing
   on the living edge of my shame.
As each day passes I heal,
observing the course of the clouds,
listening to their sobs lost in the rain.
   I feel the fibres at work inside me,
   like strangers filling each recess of my mind,
   like pirates plundering treasure from my garden.
All pain is gone,
dawn breaks on the colorless horizon,
white as air, black as collagen.
   I feel the fibres at work inside me,
   moles burrowing into the earth, twisting their limbs,
   gnawing into my very core.
Now that I am healed,
what good is such a heart,
hard and fibrous?
   Unyielding as marble
   unshakeable, unable to pray,
   I dive into Hell pain free.

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