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Poetry and Medicine
September 26, 2012

The Morning Post

Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: Ballard Pediatric Clinic, Seattle, Washington (

JAMA. 2012;308(12):1189. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.6000

Thin gray envelope, single sheet,
the modest typeface, all convey good news—
the polyps are benign. No unseemly hoopla,
no cause to buy a round. The expected
no surprise, unlike the lightning-shocked dismay
had the news been otherwise.
But the envelope beneath, fat
and creamy, displays an offer from
the Neptune Society, addressed to me.
Free cremation, environmentally friendly.
That's a different story. The first envelope
is in the dust-bin. The second I’ve yet to open.
The tide's still out, but the waves,
the waves are lapping closer.

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