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Poetry and Medicine
April 22/29, 1998

Madness

Author Affiliations
 

Edited by Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1998;279(16):1238BB. doi:10.1001/jama.279.16.1238

During the time she was wedded to sanity,
a train of white petals from raspberry
brambles brushed across the grass floor
shining like jade in the sunlight.
Bridesmaids of blossoming wildflowers wearing
the perfume of nectar were gentlemanly
courted by bumblebees and horseflies
as a bluebird diva sang a cappella
from the balcony of a birdhouse,
the moment captured like a photograph
on a still pond's surface.
When it came time to celebrate and propose
a toast from the season-aged raspberry wine
stored in those fruit-skinned barrels
everyone ignored the razor-blade cuts
on her wrists, attributing them to an accident
from the thorns, not wanting to believe
how she could find pain in all this pleasure.
Divorced in public now many times,
pill dust settles like fine snow
over the landscape of her hibernating brain
as we watch her endure her personal winter,
dreading when the haloperidol
and chlorpromazine melt and her thawing
mind becomes vulnerable once again
to the next storm of madness,
when the grass becomes an open mouth
filled with bile-stained incisors,
and water spiders dip their legs
into the pond creating jagged
shards of glass, while the fallen red oak
leaves like blood clots are diluted
but never quite washed away by the rain
sweating off the fingers of branches,
as everyone hopelessly wonders if the bluebird
will ever return again and resume her song.

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