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Poetry and Medicine
October 26, 2005

Dolor

Author Affiliations
 

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

JAMA. 2005;294(16):2001. doi:10.1001/jama.294.16.2001

(after Theodore Roethke )
I have known the ineluctable grief of waiting,
the desolation of fluorescence and its quiet
accompanist: the low drone of vending
machinery.
The sadness of the silent switchboard;
of sleeping pushcarts, empty reception areas;
the unending
tunnelry of immaculate public spaces; the odor of antiseptic,
the pale standard face of nightshift workers; the gray
duplication of mornings; the quiet
clatter and clink of the cafeteria—slowly
regaining consciousness.
Out the window,
on the street below, the clamor of children—filling the crosswalk,
crowding the playground.
The baby got sick.
The baby
never woke up.
My baby: wrapped in linen,
stiff, still—
perfect,
in her box.

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