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Poetry and Medicine
April 21, 1999

Night Calls

Author Affiliations

Edited by Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1999;281(15):1360. doi:10.1001/jama.281.15.1360

Below the maple tree his window pours
the black it holds across the shutters across
the clapboards, over the leaf-clogged gutters we meant
to clean. And what does it mean? In my brother's room
tonight, no one is sleeping. Somewhere a truck
starts up unmuffled, a sound that rises and falls
like his echoed snoring. How often I shuffled into his room,
guided by patches of moon through the maple.
Does it matter how hard or often I tugged and heaved?
Or how he breathed easily facing the window?
Above the maple, wind is a long
smooth sigh that smothers the neighborhood like a pillow.
Leaves creep from the gutter, scrape under my covers
and tonight, there is no one sleeping in my brother's room.

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