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Poetry and Medicine
January 17, 2007

Habañera

Author Affiliations
 

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

JAMA. 2007;297(3):244. doi:10.1001/jama.297.3.244

We dismantle her
house, divide the things
we’ve lived among, the books
and photographs, lift Chagall’s
“Musician” off its hook, unplug
the stereo, collect librettos,
1936, Caruso at the Met.
Small things speak up
emptying
her boxes full of pills
the special phone
with giant numerals, its shrill
ring, two hearing aids,
her teeth, the upper partial
resting in a blue plastic case.
We dismantle the bed
remove the rail, the kind
you use to keep a child
from falling in the night,
find her glasses folded
on the table. She always left
them open, ready, ear pieces
jutting from the frame—
Yellow jonquils glow
before the mantel mirror.
Her friend Minna brought them,
knowing it would change nothing,
mother, singing behind the rhythm
of a Carmen aria, becoming eggshell,
loose in her big chair, no longer knowing
Minna but loving Carmen, loving yellow.

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