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Poetry and Medicine
November 25, 2009


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2009;302(20):2187. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1492

They tell you he lives on in the landscape,
so you walk out alone, and yes, it's true:
you hear him in the sigh of leaves,
in the rattle of his beloved trains,
in the waves and spray of his lake, and every lake.
They tell you he lives on in the family,
so you listen, and yes, it's true:
in the warmth of your sister's voice reading
to your daughter twenty-eight years later
you hear his voice reading to you.
They tell you he lives on in memory,
so you look inside, and yes, it's true:
somewhere your father and mother are still
on a futile trip to another doctor;
somewhere your mother still injects him
with medicine that doesn't help;
you are in that living room still,
with the tableau of two messengers,
no longer Grandma and Grandpa,
but your mother's mother and her second husband,
who whisper the news,
their faces, in close-up, framed
by a windowed glimpse of November blue.

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