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Poetry and Medicine
August 24/31, 2005

The Vine and the Branches

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2005;294(8):880. doi:10.1001/jama.294.8.880

This morning doctors parted
twins from around one heart,
leaving the survivor to ache,
her pulse whispering the name
of her sister. I closed the paper
and roamed the garden, wondering
who chose, and how. Tomatoes
draped fat from wooden stakes,
each from a flower unclipped
in June, when we had trimmed
the prodigal shoots.
In college, a roommate confided
how God would help him drop putts.
I cringed but wouldn’t argue,
convinced only of my side
of the room. What did I know
about golf? Later, he led
the Open, but missed the cut,
while I rested in a hospital,
undiagnosed. My mother
queried God in the A&P,
as the leering checker bagged
her vegetables in boundless health.
But I survived, the mystery growth
pruned, sparing me to pick
tomatoes, and brood on the riddles
of this garden.

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