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Poetry and Medicine
June 24, 2009

Not Needed

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2009;301(24):2532. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.679

The thing about growing older
is that nobody says your name
for weeks. Nothing happens
if you don't get out of bed, don’t
take the air, don't shop for bread
or shoes. No one will stop to ask,
“Where is so-and-so?” or observe
footprints never left in the snow,
the snow unshoveled, the class untaught.
You are home pouring coffee,
working silently at your table,
uncubicled. You notice things.
The hydrangeas are enormous. A cobweb
hangs over the lamp. You are your own
museum piece, dusting yourself,
listening for birdsong, breath and heartbeat,
standing still enough to watch motes
loiter in a sunny window, to hear
the rain falling like a silver miracle.

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