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Poetry and Medicine
March 10, 2010

Epstein-Barr

Author Affiliations
 

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

JAMA. 2010;303(10):920. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.172

At the bottom
   of the tea cup,
the last leaves of lemongrass
spell a new fortune:
   There will be a nap in your future.
That future has already
become
   a past. Each day's worth
of tea-leavings:
       a bog
from which my tired body,
mired
   hip-to-shoulder—
   tries to slog its slow way
       way up from.
In the kitchen, the bright
   clatter of cutlery. And
 the high-pitched chatter,
         the laughter
of relatives
   I’m named after.
Their sharpened knives
   chop chives on the oiled
block. Heady scents
rise from
   wooden scars.
It will be gradual,
the return to health—
   tendered by the same
         hidden hands
that furrow my brow,
give me my
   upside-down smile.
I am the joke
   my family of strangers visits.
I am their laughter
  and sigh,
their catharsis at not being me
   palpable
as a lemon
       stung by its second cut.

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