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Poetry and Medicine
February 27, 2013

Here Is Farther Away Than There

Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: Lakewood, Washington (sigridunset@comcast.net).

JAMA. 2013;309(8):749. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.30395

For My Mother With Lewy Body Dementia

You fall the sudden way
rhododendrons lose petals in June.  
You remember the salt mines in Salzburg
when you are confused by your cavernous closet; 
you point every shoe to the door.
Your husband's head is stippled with eczema
the way aphids eat a pink rose.
He takes it personally when you call him mister.
He waters the hydrangea, throws out the old milk,
reads the paper to you.
You believe you have two husbands in your bed,
one loving, and one cruel.
You wonder what people will think,
but I tell you this is the truth
for every married woman.
Your disease counts backwards.
I was ten when you loved artichoke hearts,
I was five when you made me bean soup.
I am waiting for that effacing tide;
when it comes I will turn it around,
and count your fingers,
count the clover,
count the sparrows in the yard.

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