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Poetry and Medicine
January 4, 2006

Doctor's Amnesia

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2006;295(1):14. doi:10.1001/jama.295.1.14

It can't be rare these days. After the wars,
watching Discovery Channel safe at home,
I saw a back I knew from angled mirrors:
those pinched, frenetic features were my own.
And then the blow of memory's return:
unbearable burns, charred from the waist on down,
scrubbing so fast my fingers seemed to blur,
the flesh, the cries, immediate yet far,
were all as if you saw them on TV.
I saw the things Prime Time would never see
caught by the cameraman beside the bed.
The child was just the age of my own son.

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