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Poetry and Medicine
September 21, 2005

Three Disks, Two Rods, and a Dozen Screws

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2005;294(11):1319. doi:10.1001/jama.294.11.1319

A week before circumferential fusion with hardware,
the masseuse places the blade of her hand on my spine,
murmuring, Close your eyes and imagine flakes
of metal swirling like snow . . . Flurries of iron
sift down from I-beams and trestles, stick
to my skin like filings to a magnet, then pass
painlessly through, forming a subcutaneous
armor so my resolve won’t flicker,
so there’s a wick in the candle of my flesh,
so I can toss aside my canes and stand
strong as a bronze horse who rears while
his general hangs his hat on the sky, who grows
greener, more fervent in storms—huge hollow
body flying on armature, as mine will
once the surgeons implant the titanium, the steel.

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