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Poetry and Medicine
May 18, 2011

A View From Granddad’s Window

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2011;305(19):1943. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.501

Like pupae browned as result of rain
in trashcans, drowning in mere inches,
or that unnatural frog they found, eyes
in its mouth, two membraned, glistening balls
above forked tongue—so is loneliness:
the walnut-shell skinned men in pre-war caps,
hands folded over their canes' cobra heads
as if for alms or prayer.
Under their eyes, bags hoard what's left
of their whole lives' possessions:
their strange and steady calm, a night's
worth of the bathroom journeys,
waiting for minutes
over the bowl water; a life
of scaling stairs, moving from bench
to bench, remembering pilot days,
not speaking. I think of them,
of loneliness in them, gutfuls of toads,
forgotten oaths, muscles' unraveled fibers,
flies from an open window tending shyly
to diabetic sugar in their piss,
nights spent with wars, dead wives, the loss
of all that’s supple: as if all water drained from them
through secret widening channels
into a streetside ditch to swell up roots.

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