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Poetry and Medicine
September 22/29, 1999

Irene Won't Talk of Death

Author Affiliations

Edited by Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1999;282(12):1112A. doi:10.1001/jama.282.12.1112

We are hod carriers of sadness.
Back and forth between the sentences
We pile unspoken sentiment in wet heaps
Where it sticks like dank sludge to glib phrases
We are cursed to utter.
We are bellhops of misery.
From door to bed, to bath and back
We teeter chain-gang legs on ice, black
With grief, impossible to show, impossible to avoid
Wedged as a frozen pass.
We are nurses of sick curiosity.
Around the weird draw of deformity
We minister trim shrouds of deference.
We disguise disgusted words our minds cough up,
We gag but fail to keep down.
We ache to say good-bye
Because we dare not speak
With you around. We stopper
What we must. Like spent blowfish
We pray to exhale.

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