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Poetry and Medicine
July 25, 2012

Depression

Author Affiliations
 

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

Author Affiliation: Kennydale, Washington (judith.skillman@comcast.net).

JAMA. 2012;308(4):321. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.4826

Neglect turned the garden
into a skeletal offering:
crumpled leaves from autumn,
rosemary completely gone.
A lettuce-head sized group
of lemon balm begins again,
stalwart citizens of the earth.
The green opposition.
How deep was my depression?
I ate the same meals for a year,
slept in three-hour increments,
hauled this body left outwardly
intact by accident. How
have thirty years gone by?
Neglect left a few sticks
of lavender—called wands
when magic reigned.
Even the pampas grass,
worn thin by wind,
barely dares to wave its own flag.
My hands seem flimsy,
no longer the tools to wave
or dig with. Am I meant
to keep things up—the front
of fine, and how are you? A knob
of mint sprawled here. Oregano,
for the Italian dish—
sprinkled over hand-picked
tomatoes, singed and skinned.
And dill. What once was new
is old news now: a dash
of sadness, a plot of grief.

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