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Poetry and Medicine
February 17, 2010

The Crab

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2010;303(7):592. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.2021

There is something they don't tell you
about where the water flows,
where the sea washes through the rocks
depositing the crabs. My fingers
reach in to touch the lump,
hard as stone.
She already knows.
Two large scars straddle her chest,
where breasts used to be.
She will return to the boat
and continue sailing around the world.
She asks me for sixty Secanol. I say
I wish I could. What I missed when I said
I admired her courage, were her tears.
She still had hope that I wouldn't fail her.
My fingertips still feel the claws in the cave of flesh,
an unwanted scavenger. I wondered what
it would be like to leave
all the things of this earth.
The smell of the ocean,
the sound of waves and gulls,
the slap and hiss of water on sand.
It is too many farewells to understand.
To be alone like that.

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