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Poetry and Medicine
December 10, 2003


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2003;290(22):2914. doi:10.1001/jama.290.22.2914

The wall streaks mercury red, sunset
flares from snow-melt, the hospital bed's a wrestler
that pins my left side down. Blood tars
my thoughts until page-long stories ravel,
tangled in a broken tongue. I am blind to the left,
stiff necked as a rose. I play curl-up, sick-lick-fur,
sleep and see. What comes next? Sirens
sing from the window. I trail blood and piss
across the bleach-clean floor, the grass shrieks
in green exhalations, and my mother's at the door
calling too. Night shift nurses remember Vietnam
or talk of God as I decide to die too damaged
for my own use. But my mother sat and sat
and sat and sat and sat through swatches of night
and day until she had me back—a batch of cookies
brought by a friend—in the end the things that save
are simple. Along the hemline of wear there's the fold
that hides binding bias tape and raveled tear.

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