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Poetry and Medicine
April 21, 2004

On the Day of Her Death

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2004;291(15):1811. doi:10.1001/jama.291.15.1811

time stopped as we waited in the wind
and dust for the phone call that would explain
there had been a mistake, the call that never came.
Even so, she'd been rushing around
in joy these last few months as if
she would never have time for everything.
On the second day of her death
the sky remained brilliant, inexplicably
blue. Train whistles screamed out the hours
as the taxi drivers continued to hurry
their passengers to their urgent
and usual destinations. I dreamed
of a sidewalk stained dark, a stain
I tried again and again to erase.
On the third day of her death
another shipment of tears arrives
unbidden, but welcome. I imagine
an elegant candle, after a magnificent meal
stubbed down to a pool of hot wax
and a wick, a candle that flares briefly
and fiercely before going out.

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