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Poetry and Medicine
May 21, 2008

The Other Place You Live

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2008;299(19):2248. doi:10.1001/jama.299.19.2248

Here in the dark where lies are taken
for the truth,
        some anxious question
keeps raising its hand
in the back row.
And either a camera dwells too long
on a close-up,
        or a scene shifts arbitrarily.
The night likes to find
the rough place,
to run a finger over a scar
until you can hear
        the playground-tease
or you're on the wrong bus again,
a woolen sleeve
trying to rub condensation
from the window—
        years it takes—
searching in a vortex of streets
for a certain house,
a door with no address,
and somewhere a room
        with a bed waiting,
the covers turned back
in childhood.
If you try to call out,
words catch
        in your throat,
the gurgling of an empty bottle
plunged in water.

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