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Poetry and Medicine
August 5, 2009

There is harm

Author Affiliations
 

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

JAMA. 2009;302(5):470. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1053

because there is this innocent animal,
the body;
because a baby's unguarded gaze,
and the open regard
of animals both hold patience
with the world,
with mineral fact. Impenetrable
consciousness
arising from, locked into flesh. So
the body's harm
astonishes,
for instance when met in the eyes
of the squirrel, run over, still
alive
beside the road,
eyes near bursting
meeting your own
and holding
something—
   a plea?
Because there is
absence
of words, no telling
what is wanted, what
will help:
the question, “What is right to do?”
if anything,
and a need
to be
out from under this
responsibility,
my god, such need.

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