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Poetry and Medicine
October 12, 2011


Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: Brooklyn, New York (fischbel@bestweb.net).

JAMA. 2011;306(14):1524. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1306

(Transient Global Amnesia)

When what is
doesn't hold and questions
seem to open on nothing and
the radio signals little
but disappearance and your last
thought simply evaporates;
when whatever you were doing
or wherever you were ten minutes
or three hours ago is missing,
you wonder what is happening,
why the haze
that looks like your kitchen.
You know your wife, her
voice, as she returns home,
though not where she went
or for how long she has been gone.
Although you understand her words,
the outgoing tide of your thoughts
takes them away. Your speech is clear.
The day of the week, your address,
even the president's name are there.
But where you were about to go is gone
as is any distress or panic
this absence might cause. The room
around you hovers like a hallucination.
You repeat a question to your wife,
this for the third time she tells you.
Something is not right, needs to reboot, to
refoliate and make your memory like an atrium.
Other than a hissing in your ears,
there is no intimation
that anything might be wrong.
None until the ambulance arrives.

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