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Poetry and Medicine
March 24 2010

My Father’s Death Certificate Reads

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2010;303(12):1124. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.175

Manner of Death: Accident,
Method of Immediate Disposition: Burial,
notes The Brezniak-Rodman Funeral Home
we used, that he was 76 at his Last Birthday,
that my grandparents were born in Russia,
and even the address where my mother now
lives alone.
Slipped and Fell on Inclined Path
is the description of the accident,
and Parkinson's Disease is listed as
a Contributing Factor.
There are options for Suicide, and
Homicide, and choices like Cremation,
or Donation we might have considered.
There are places for Months and Days
for those whose time was less than a year,
and Hours and Minutes for those
whose lives were shorter still.
My address is there too,
though there's no description of
the drizzle that Spring morning, or
the stilling sound his head made
opening to a page no one wanted to read,
or of his pooling blood, when he fell,
there, on my front walk and died.

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