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Poetry and Medicine
August 28, 2002

After the Tests

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2002;288(8):930. doi:10.1001/jama.288.8.930

Finally home, I stare through the window
of the microwave as coffee left over
from my dawn rush reheats.
I had never noticed that the glass tray
staggers rather than flows in its slow
mechanical circle. The souvenir mug
I just brought home from the imaging
center is adorned with a dark dome
of skull turned in profile.
It responds to heat by revealing a frail
outline of brain, spine and cord
which fades as the drink cools.
In less than an hour, technicians tracked
a pattern viral damage scattered like spoor
in the crust of my brain.
Silent, they looked away from a wall
of light and gazed into grim distance.
For all we know the body still holds
its secrets close. What is lost, I think,
is hoarded where nothing remains
to be seen.
Vapor rises from my bitter drink,
twining as it is caught in a late
September breeze.

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