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Poetry and Medicine
April 26, 2000

The End of Dreams

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2000;283(16):2077. doi:10.1001/jama.283.16.2077

He wakens knowing this to be the day
his hopeless singing voice at last will sound
exactly like the young Robert Goulet.
It is the day for him to touch the ground
as only noble Fred Astaire has done
before, and only once, and with someone
perfect in his arms. He will be able
to accompany himself on the grand
piano by sight, bass hand and treble
hand like swallows in flight, each magic hand
nimble and light as the air that trembles
with the music he will make at the end
of all his dreams. It feels simple and right
to draw in all the air he can, to grow
still, then soar. Now they all stand around
his bed, in tears, and he sees the pure light
that means the time has come for him to sound
the first note, take the first step, and let go.

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