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Poetry and Medicine
November 9, 2005

The Resurrection of Stanley Kunitz, 3/3/03

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to

JAMA. 2005;294(18):2278. doi:10.1001/jama.294.18.2278

Bowed under his ninety-eight years,
the frail poet floated in bed
like an insect’s wing on a pond,
blown down by a March wind.
A faint flutter revealed life
beat below the surface.
Friends came, took his hands;
then one sat near him and read poems,
word-spells chanted to old gods.
After some time, the sick man’s eyes
glinted, knees warmed in afternoon sun,
the gold of Yeats’ spirit-lamp.
Once a man’s heart stopped
on a hospital ward; I ran to him,
blew air into his still lungs
and beat his chest while my friends
pricked his dying heart.
One hour we worked; fingers failed.
As I muttered verses recalling
fire and youth, the man sat up.
My Code Blue Team stocks poetry
on each crash cart.

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