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Poetry and Medicine
June 19, 2013

The Corner Table in the VFW Hall

Author Affiliations
 

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

Author Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts (mark.bauer@va.gov).

JAMA. 2013;309(23):2419. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.315

How can one gaunt and stooped as you still fill
the room? How can eyes colorless and rheumy
as yours beneath their hooded lids still fix
and penetrate as if they knew, but more?
With hands as gnarled and knobbed as yours, how can
your grip at once immobilize, enfold?
How can your rattling cough pull up and blossom
into a vibrant, ingathering laugh, bellowing
approval or dissent or still some other
more distant and mysterious comprehension?
The faded denim shirt hangs from your shoulders
like sails billowing loose along their yardarms,
waiting for the wind that takes them home.

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