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Poetry and Medicine
April 13, 2005

Dying/Living: Edge’s Tale

Author Affiliations
 

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to charlene_breedlove@jama-archives.org.

JAMA. 2005;293(14):1705. doi:10.1001/jama.293.14.1705

He returns from the hospital a bag of sad bones.
Insomnia. Diarrhea. Incomprehension.
“Place my ashes in the garden,” he writes,
like an emperor, commanding the luxurious
comfort of his own bed. His breathing slows, but
no. He doesn’t die. The body
T-cell by T-cell and drip by drop
heals through the winter. Snows recede.
Only his cat continues to fail,
sharing, uncannily, his loose bowels and fatigue.
“What did I need in my hour of death?”
he thinks. Thinks back to that white room.
“To be comfortable. To know my needs
would all be met. To be left alone.”
He makes a bed for the cat in the sun.
Arranges her food, water, litter box. Leaves her alone.
Then, for the first time in her life, she
leaps to his bed, sleeps by his side.
In the morning, he places his hand on her breathing back,
and understands, “We will meet each other again. We are
all this same spark, this life.” She dies that night.

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