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Poetry and Medicine
April 15, 1998

Waking After Dickinson

Author Affiliations

Edited by Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1998;279(15):1168A. doi:10.1001/jama.279.15.1168

And then a Plank in reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down
—#280 E.D.

I slept then waked into the same film gris,
every edge eroded, dull and blunt,
mornings of mist and afternoons of drizzle,
in an any-season drone.
After the dial tone, Jovial,
a voice promised "bright clouds."
It was the best that he could offer.
I understood, accepted, almost glad.
Tomorrow's trash day,
Thursday's neurosurg.
On the back porch,
that one damp board still sags
beneath the weight of one wife and two trash bags.
It jolts my dream back—black silk quatrains
pulled like a drawstring through my brain—
while above me, behind a crazy weft of trees,
one cloud glares a cold insistent white
like a birthday flare.
The porch creaks just once more, then holds,
as I balance there.

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