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Poetry and Medicine
May 5, 2010

Listening to the Heart of Grace

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2010;303(17):1675. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.425

for my soon-to-be-born granddaughter
In the hallways of darkness
we’ll burn the midnight
oil until dawn, listening
to our own echoes stitched
across the landscape: sonorous sounds
sewn into the bare branches of the evening
sky. It will be the time
when moths drink from the tears
of sleeping birds and drums
call out an unfamiliar rhythm.
It will be the time when Grace is delivered.
Listen now. Can you hear
the missing beat of that heart's
lost chamber? In this house
with three rooms and everything
blue, where the nonexistent is known
only by an absence of footfall, do you hear
the small birds roosting in the rafters?
In a lone lower room, bluebirds
beat their wings against the chamber
walls, take flight with cardinals
on breathless rounds. Only bluebirds
return through the attic window,
and begin again their tiny dreams
of scarlet cathedrals filled with air,
of a frantic descent down an attic stair.
Listen. Something blue is beating
in the heart of Grace. Something
like distant drums. Something with wings.

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