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Poetry and Medicine
January 21, 2004

Deep Structures

Author Affiliations
 

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

JAMA. 2004;291(3):281. doi:10.1001/jama.291.3.281

I never knew how deep the structures were
or why the words for them compelled my brain.
Amygdaloid—the sound tripped off my tongue.
And hippocampal gyrus made me sing.
The rhythm of these words compels my brain
The tendons in my hand have been eclipsed,
but hippocampal gyrus makes me sing.
For thirty years, still dancing from my tongue.
The tendons in my hand have been eclipsed
as have the layered structures of my back.
But thirty years they've tumbled off my tongue—
those rhythmic nebulae within my brain.
Those layered structures of my back are zip.
But caudate, red, and pallidus survive—
those rhythmic nebulae that strum my brain.
Gone, passion that I had for naming names.
But caudate, red, and pallidus endure,
and amygdaloid, an almost perfect me.
Gone, passion that I had for naming names,
yet those archaic structures still hold fast.
Amygdaloid is almost perfect self.
And even though I judged my soul was lost,
those deep archaic structures never budged.
They form the links by which our lives connect.
And even though I judged my soul was lost
I never knew how deep its structures were,
the links they make by which our lives connect.
Amygdaloid! It dances from my tongue.

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