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Poetry and Medicine
October 17, 2001

Virginia Dare*

Author Affiliations
 

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

JAMA. 2001;286(15):1810. doi:10.1001/jama.286.15.1810

Did the aunt of Virginia Dare
know of her conception
or the tincture of those eyes
that we picture washed away
into the ground among the gulls
and holes sedged leeward?
Whether that child grew to stand,
grasped the budded carving on the cradle,
and plumped her doll beneath
a model of the Golden Hind,
we cannot know.
Nor have we the dreams ribbed
two by two up her stockings
by an inerrant hand.
But somewhere a slight brow
and fingernail becomes the brows
and fingernails of all Virginias,
Carolines and Carolinas
from all colonies, born first or hindmost.
No doubt in memory of her
our niece Caroline chose
to be born earliest of all of us,
her weight a kalanchoe
or a jade plant in a four-inch pot
where children launch their kites in bas-relief;
a stray cat is nearly twice as large.
Yet she breathes without a respirator's lift.
A fact of grace: I can no more save her
than I could Virginia Dare.

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