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Poetry and Medicine
November 3, 1999

The Infusion Center

Author Affiliations

Edited by Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1999;282(17):1606B. doi:10.1001/jama.282.17.1606

This is no place people want to hear about,
except Ellen who loves the word infusion.
But in this room, even the floor has a pulse.
Once I watched a daughter's hand sketch her
mother's face, allowing the iv tubes to
cascade down the left side of the page.
Looking out at her daughter, the mother
had such a smile it made
the windows weep.
And the Chinese woman too young
to be here. Before the needle
was in place, I overheard her life:
her husband's death, two young children, her
age of 32. When I glanced sideways,
I saw two fingers against her lips
to hold back more than we can know.
Kuan Yin, Kuan Yin be here to hold
her silence.
And once, a woman
who looked so much like Georgia O'Keeffe,
even those long-fingered hands. When Dr Tseng
asked how her weekend had been
she waved those hands through the air and said,
"Oh, dinner and dancing and then dancing
some more." I never saw these women again,
but their choreography is still there pouring
through the air, through the room, through
a thousand stories like these.

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