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Poetry and Medicine
November 22/29, 2006

Anna, Gravid

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2006;296(20):2418. doi:10.1001/jama.296.20.2418

We speculate whether she will inherit
your shockingly green, wide eyes,
long lashes, or her father's smoky blues.
Who thinks to consider
the 100 billion neurons beginning to fire,
thalamus and amygdala awash
in stimulants, inhibitors—
glutamate and GABA,
serotonins and dopamines—molecules
like ten million hands at the switches,
on and off, on and off?
Who worries about those?
Ten fingers and ten toes.
Who wonders if a PET scan
would show all the right lights
in all the right places, if the old brain
will talk to the new,
rein in the impulses or let ’em rip,
sustain attention,
connect effects with their causes?
Why imagine her with blue hair, stoned
or raging, carving her flesh to connect?
You abstain, refrain, riveted
on the time traveler, shape-changer
hurtling toward her debut main stage
in a production that cannot fail.

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