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Poetry and Medicine
December 27, 2006

Meditation Lesson in the Pays d’Oc

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2006;296(24):2899. doi:10.1001/jama.296.24.2899

I have closed my eyes to the blue hills
across rock-bound vineyards
through a screen of olive trees
over hedges of rosemary and lavender,
paying attention to my breath.
Fragrance, memory, birdsong,
the clamor of cicadas—I notice these,
then return my attention to my breath.
The slow caress of the sun
moves over my face just as it moves over the vines,
ripening grapes into the blood of stones.
Paying attention only to my breath,
I inhale something big and alive, and I panic!
Instead of dying I cough up a butterfly,
In disbelief watch it
dry its wings in the sun then rejoin the iridescent cloud
floating on the scent of lavender.
Pay attention to your breath, telling you
this world is a place full of trapdoors
hinged smoothly as a lepidopteran wing.

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