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Poetry and Medicine
January 16, 2013

Compound Depressed Fracture

Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: Ross, California (

JAMA. 2013;309(3):215. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.13644

His home, before the bus ran it down,
was a cardboard box.
A piece of his skull was trepanned
and housed
in a hollow that lay near his heart.
They put Humpty Dumpty back together
again, and you took
your son home. But when you let go
the sitter (no rehab would
take him so long as he needed a sitter),
he fell again. Such interrupture. How can
a mother tend to her orchard?
The sun continues its consort with bones
and seeds, skin no more
than a wet petal translucent on pavement.
Your eyes bell with water. Salt is poured
at the root of your heart.
Words are strung like beads in the dark
of the crazy ward.
Each hour is a weal on the body of days,
and you are a samovar that will not boil
dry. You know just what
this is—at best, the outermost shell
of a Russian Doll tragedy
that began with a birth. Or even before.

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