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Poetry and Medicine
February 4, 1998

Chekhov's Doctors

Author Affiliations

Edited by Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1998;279(5):340J. doi:10.1001/jama.279.5.340

Take off your blouse, Anyuta.
Let me examine your bones.
Hold up your arms and I'll trace
with this crayon the arcs
of your scrawny ribs. Your chest
is like a piano's keys—
too damn thin. Be a good girl
and stop that shivering.
Run over to Fedisov's place,
Anyuta, and take your clothes off—
he's in need of a nude for his
classical painting. The model
he hired was no damn good—blue legs
from cheap stockings. Couldn't keep
his mind in check, but it's a waste
to talk about that. Get going.
Look, you're slovenly and plain
which matches the rest of my
miserable life. Put on your coat.
We'll have to part in any case,
so why not now? Look at you,
your face quivering with tears,
your lips parted in thought. I can't
concentrate. Stop . . . stay a week.