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Poetry and Medicine
December 14, 2011

On the Frontier

Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: Seattle, Washington (joannieks@msn.com).

JAMA. 2011;306(22):2428. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1690

This loss breaks time, your body,
   the landscape. The sun
      rises on a new angle.
Each memory comforts,
    a ritual to wrap the past
around your cold shoulders,
    a way to connect the threads
of last year to this low dusk
    as night seeps
      from the ground.
You didn't ask for these chances,
    tomorrow a strange beast lurking
outside the fire's light, flame
    eyes and teeth glistening.
You listen for a twig's crack-snap,
    listen for a kinder song coming
from the far hills
    or the telephone.
Days shift inside you.
    Time shrinks,
     expands like a lung.
You tilt with the hours, interrupted
    only by crows' mischief.
Some bird talisman.
The tide rolls in, out, leaves
    new stones on the beach.
You can pick up one—a change
    that fits in your hand.

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