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Poetry and Medicine
August 26, 2009

Afterlife and In Between

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2009;302(8):830. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1057

A child has died but is brought back
and remembers floating near the ceiling
looking down at the doctor who is now on the air
sharing the proto-ghost's point of view
with a radio audience, except it's called a near death.
The defibrillator didn't want to work.
The music of spheres whistled like a train.
The proverbial tunnel of light was actually a noodle.
There were clouds too, and baby clouds.
At that point in your ex-next life it's OK
to mix metaphors or talk about the weather.
Everyone was nice, especially God.
The doctor chuckles and recalls a couple hundred kids
under ice or in the river long enough to be blue,
stiff, flatline, gone, ready at last to receive
all benefit of doubt. In the car at 50 miles per hour
and late again for your morning, you hope
when the end comes you can drown first
then reappear beneath those cheerful hands.
That first breath would taste like lightning.

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