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Poetry and Medicine
December 22/29, 2004

Poets Playing

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2004;292(24):2952. doi:10.1001/jama.292.24.2952

for Jack and Anne

Never mind that my bridge is small,
that it crosses a stream of dry stones,
that it’s painted Navajo red
—not orange-red as in Japanese gardens.
But when you suggest water lilies,
I offer Basho’s frog. When you raise it
three koi, I up it one blue heron and,
over there by the native deer fern,
a golden full-moon maple. By now
we’re laughing at this escalation,
our wives amused by poets playing,
freed for the moment of brooding concerns.
Never mind either that my pond
is a failed patch of sod, that the bridge
does not lead to meditation furrows
raked in fine gravel, but to compost bins
crouched behind an ancient cedar log
where the work of returning is under way.
An act of nature that I now see
as the exact metaphor for hope.

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