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Poetry and Medicine
July 7, 1999

Naming the Days

Author Affiliations

Edited by Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1999;282(1):10K. doi:10.1001/jama.282.1.10

Before dawn when the light
tinges the colorless curtains red
or blue, a factor determined
by the cold or lack of it, but
always in summer red, I lie
alone on this bed, my hands
hugging the loose skin of my belly,
so suddenly emptied,
and wait for the expected color
each morning to break open
the silence, but it doesn't,
and I gasp in the memory
of a moment known again and again
in the frozen quiet of this house.
The names saved up for months
I now give to the days, constant
yet pricked and tossed, like discarded
balloons from a child's first party.

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