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Poetry and Medicine
November 26, 2008

Lunch at the Frye Art Museum

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2008;300(20):2347. doi:10.1001/jama.300.20.2347

It was I who called the luncheon
to parse my recently found prostate cancer.
For 20 years we three had crafted
the Center's cancer symposium.
The oncologist thinks treatment will just
disrupt my real life: family, garden, poems.
But he doesn't know my history of depression,
how I’ve learned to drink every bitter cup.
He's taken up the cello with gusto.
The pathologist is moved by my calm.
But he will never know the relief that flows
when death by one's hand is displaced
by a less troubled stream. He's reconsidering
the violin he laid down for Medicine.
Then we view the new exhibit. Then we hug
—something we’ve never done before.

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