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Poetry and Medicine
February 18, 2009


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2009;301(7):703. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.984

My eyelids tripled in size, orbits
abruptly became roseate turrets,
eyeballs burqa-ed to dark slits.
Had a swirling mass of tsetse flies
in disguise nettled my back, thighs,
arms, face? Scratching was exquisite,
relief fleeting, embarrassment acute,
the intramuscular steroids a shot
short of Mace. Cause never found,
the hives never recurred (decades out).
What tripped the switch? Inexplicable
sudden arrival, then the powerful
centering itch. Days unfold and refold,
leaving only memory, briefly unscrolled.

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