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Poetry and Medicine
February 4, 2004


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2004;291(5):528. doi:10.1001/jama.291.5.528

      for Marirose and John Radelet
On a Sunday morning behind the house
on Resaca Street, a dark bird pecks
at what's left of a pigeon, a disk
of white feathers on grass, a savage scene
I hadn't counted on for breakfast.
As the year runs out, there's only a pane
of window between the newspaper
with headlines screaming Afghanistan!
and the tense black predator. She's edgy
as I am. It must be the pressure
events make, immiscibility mixed—
terror and peace, hers and mine, falcon
and pigeon, clear and ambiguous,
looked at and looking; irony, person;
predator, prey; pleasure and pain.
She worries her glob of flesh again,
but quickly drops it—nothing is working
this time. She tenses at the porch's threat.
Wrongness is everywhere—she senses it.
The falcon slashes again, then impales
the remains of the pigeon. Without
holding back, or bandying about,
or calling forth the baggage of virtue
or self-awareness, she bolts to a perch
at the top of the fence and vanishes.

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