Views 33
Citations 0
Poetry and Medicine
August 1, 2012

My Plastic Pietà

Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: Edmonds, Washington (

JAMA. 2012;308(5):437. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.4605

The old women in black at early mass in winter

Are a problem for him. He could tell by their eyes

They have seen Christ.

“Refusing Heaven,” Jack Gilbert

When I woke last night and read these lines
I thought of you, Anna, dead now twenty years.
Even though Mary worship is not my thing,
the Pietà you gave me still sits atop my dresser,
the dead Christ slumped over her lap.
In the wooden box stage right are my school
rings, lieutenant bars, dog tags, medical corps
insignias and honor medals.
The red-leather box stage left stows cuff links
and tie tacks I never wear.
To the rear, in a white porcelain tub, are door
keys that retrace my crooked tracks.
Scattered in front, as if petitioning a blessing,
a penknife, car keys and pocket change.
An immigrant from Rome, survivor of abuse,
your dark eyes, Anna, mirrored mercy.
I remember too how well you endured the pain
wracking your arthritic body,
how your office visits left me stronger.

First Page Preview View Large
First page PDF preview
First page PDF preview