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Poetry and Medicine
June 27, 2012

Waiting for Surgery

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to

Author Affiliation: Wheaton, Illinois (

JAMA. 2012;307(24):2570. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3576

Tonight the world smells of smoke,
vinegar, rust, ripe pears, ancient herbs,
the spices of chrism.
The moon's thin blade
wants to slice me in half
under the surgeon's hand.
It won't happen for a month.
My belly's field of dimpled flesh,
full and luminescent,
awaits the flash of the knife,
dreaming of itself scooped out,
like autumn's golden gourd.
The moon will curve again,
become the thin smile of scythe,
to savor the wound and its harvest.

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