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Poetry and Medicine
December 17, 2008

Electric Snowman

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2008;300(23):2706. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.705

Pinned to the wall of her hospital room,
a photograph my mother shows to guests—
twelve black stitches raging down her hip,
now nearly good as new. In bed, her white body
plump in its nest of pillows, she presses
a button to raise and lower the head,
but the foot she must not touch.
Once each day she swings from her bed
in a motorized sling that reverses itself
and drops her into her chair. She likes it up there,
bathed and diapered, smiling benignly down.
It's a short flight. Doable.
“I Love Lucy” through headphones
makes her laugh. She loves the candy factory—
Lucy and Ethel stuffing themselves,
the silly baker's hats, the chocolate fight—
she’d like some chocolate herself, she says,
laughing again, the ha ha ha an engine
chugging her toward the Get Well Station.
For Halloween, she's a snowman on the loose—
revving her chair, she skids into the party room,
luminous in her fuzzy white sweatshirt,
white face paint and fright wig, pink straw hat
blooming to beat the band, and a polka dot bowtie
wired to blink its tiny lights—SOS SOS.

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