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Poetry and Medicine
May 25, 2005

A Confirmation

Author Affiliations
 

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

JAMA. 2005;293(20):2448. doi:10.1001/jama.293.20.2448

Perhaps what worries them, the future doctors
gathered here, is not so much the greeting
of the dead, but how the body seems unlike
their own: the way it never shudders from the air,
and welcomes, unrelentingly, their hands.
The students shifting foot to foot,
or drawing fingers through their hair,
seem proof the living cannot stand the stillness
of the dead, the body’s poise, its words
already spoken, all cries expelled. A silence
hovers in the room, and trembles with the blade.
The student hand that parts the skin
must bear the body’s testament: its purity
of sanction, its will of blood and bone.

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