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Poetry and Medicine
November 11, 2009

At the Hospital, They Keep the Bright Lights On

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2009;302(18):1946. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1491

Flowers bloom in his chest,
lotus blossoms opening
along the vines of his lungs,
a tropical flood of flora,
petals melting in pools,
collecting into an ocean
as he lies on the moon-white sheet,
tries to swim through his body.
Wave after wave pulls, and he slips
under then back, surfacing
into the room, the sterile air.
In your mauve chair, you count
each delicate rise of his ribs.
Outside, rain rivers
against the dark window,
sluices down the street,
water everywhere in the night
and it is hard—so hard to breathe.

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