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Poetry and Medicine
January 14, 2004

Remission and Revision

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2004;291(2):160. doi:10.1001/jama.291.2.160

To the memory of my mother, Helen Dubrow (1918-1999)

Remissions swing open the sky
So it can sing again.
Remissions stretch tendrils towards morning.
But those who tend cancer patients learn
The care and feeding of cancer:
It whets its appetite
On hair, then dines on
Green shoots of hope.
Remissions swing open the door,
Giddy with relief,
Too teenaged to check the sky for clouds,
Or to realize
That the house guest who wears the stormboots,
Who knows the house by heart,
Waits in the shadows of the garden
For an unlocked entrance.
Some guests just don't know when to leave.
Remissions are as delicate and precious
As the newborn curls that lyric across a baby's head.
And across yours.

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