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Poetry and Medicine
October 17, 2012

Shingles

Author Affiliations
 

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

Author Affiliation: Yellow Wood Academy, Mercer Island, Washington (judith.skillman@comcast.net).

JAMA. 2012;308(15):1507. doi:10.1001/2012.jama.11594

My body,
 their house.
Their raised welts,
  the overlapping siding.
As if a carpenter
   living inside my hip
works ceaselessly,
digging at synapses with his awl.
I am driven
in the fallen world
by whorls
   that tell me where
my nerves lie.
Once-pale skin
reddens, thickens,
   seeps yellow fluid.
Sealing my joints,
   their blistered hinges.
Devil's itch
   that festers
at questions
beyond good, evil.
Shall we be bitter,
or resigned,
   the burnt skin
plucked at, as pain’s
lyre, singing
at dawn?

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