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Poetry and Medicine
March 20, 2013

Language Class

Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: Chester County Hospital, West Chester, Pennsylvania (rdonze@comcast.net).

JAMA. 2013;309(11):1084. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.53296

Those sleeping high school language
class tenets stirred during his staff
meeting snap over bylaws wording
tweaks about which providers do
what—Don't call us that. Don't level
us with mid-levels or lump us with
assistants. We're doctors! Unlevel-
able. Unlumpable—but didn't wake
fully till the Quebec holiday stroll
behind St Anne's Basilica sanctuary
along the arc of ambulatory chapels
and pause at the one with the sign
in French calling St Joseph the
Holy Family pourvoyeur and after
shaking off an initial concrete parse
about voyeurs looking where or
when they shouldn't he checked
the English version and read that
leveling word he thought he hated
till like Caesar's vidi he saw all those
roots and offspring—video, visit
advise, provision, providence—and
recalled how Comment vous-appelez
vous? wasn't What's your name?
no search for noun-things but
How do you call yourself? and
how How the adverb seeks
action and saw how seeing
ahead is good action and
good advice and a good way
for a foster-father-carpenter
and an unlumpable doctor
looking where and when they
should to call themselves.

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