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Poetry and Medicine
August 2, 2000

Medic's Letter Home: Italian Alps, 1944

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2000;284(5):536. doi:10.1001/jama.284.5.536

Moonlight is not
merciful. Bodies
of the dead are
rubble in its
cruel illumination
and where I draw
the dying men
across the snow
their lives trail
black behind us.
In the silence
and the cold
the wounded are
aware of everything:
the pump and heat
of their blood,
the length of themselves
on the snow,
the endless brilliant
sky beyond me
as I bend to them. I fight
the stiff indifference
of my fingers
and I am immaterial
as moonlight
cold and silent
sliding down
the mountain's flank
and into rooms below
to lie with
sleepstilled villagers
and then dissolve
in dawn.

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