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Poetry and Medicine
December 15, 2004


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2004;292(23):2816. doi:10.1001/jama.292.23.2816

A charcoal spot on the fetal heart—
not so evident you’d notice it
at first, not with the perfect chalk-like sketch
of a body kicking and swimming
its way into life. But in the thoughtful pause
that follows the image, the doctor mentions—
as if she were writing you a note
about lunch, her hand draped on the doorknob—
a comment almost, but not entirely,
insignificant. A tube of blood,
a remark concerning the splitting
of chromosomes, a flash of brightness
in her voice—It’s not so bad; it’s nothing,
really. No point in your waiting and watching
and counting the signs that all is well,
so many of them, stacked against a single hint
of damage—for the image of chance
is stronger than reason, and more certain.

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