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Poetry and Medicine
May 11, 2005

These Migraines

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2005;293(18):2192. doi:10.1001/jama.293.18.2192

This one day a month
I’m in bed with a migraine headache,
hands like cages
pressed against my skull,
dumbly holding it back,
keeping the world out.
Regular as the angels
of inspiration,
come their devils,
a great tide of blood
that floods the cerebral arteries,
my only defense,
a mouthful of drugs
like a pharmaceutical Canute
sparring at the waves.
It’s the underside of
those times it felt
good to kiss someone
or get a thought down on paper.
It’s a blinding, searing effort
just to be,
just to get from this moment
to the next.
I crumble up in my bed,
rocking frantically through a swirling miasma
of clanging, bucking hallucinations,
slapped back and forth
by dueling thoughts
that no one ever dies from this
and what a blessing if they did.
Finally it ends
and a peace like no other
pervades my body.
I slow down at last
and everything in the room
overtakes me:
the flowers sprouting from the vase,
the photographs on the dresser.
I can leap out of bed and begin living.
Once again, my head is with me in this.

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