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Poetry and Medicine
September 18, 2002

Trunk Tearing

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2002;288(11):1326. doi:10.1001/jama.288.11.1326

The orchard is full of your dying,
Heavy with ripened color.
The gnarled trunk of the MacIntosh
Split by Autumn's invisible wave,
Like your fluid of fire,
Pounding the arterial trunk
Toward a fatal dissection,
A pipeline divided
And a creviced world widened
In a bloody extravasation.
But the bark is not girdled,
The tear not yet complete,
And the air edged
With the honeyed smell of fallen apples—
Sweetness in decay?—
Covered in the season's last bees,
Grazed by the fattening whitetails,
Who will carry your seeds to meadows
Beyond this threatening

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