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Poetry and Medicine
February 21, 2007

Leaning Forward Into a Question

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2007;297(7):676. doi:10.1001/jama.297.7.676

Leaning forward into a question mark
of sunshine through a February window
and backed by the shadow he makes behind him
on shelves of this and that that he has done,
he has forgotten the question.
Once it seemed easier to get up into morning,
wash and dress, and wait for the bones to heal.
Once he wasn't waiting for the corners of walls
to come together or doors to appear, waiting
for windows that aren't mirrors, or waiting
for moments that are beds he can get out of.
Once he wasn't waiting to speak and recognize
his own voice say, “This is so!” and believe it.
Once he could see the world instead of think it.
But now everything seems curled back on itself
like a mind run over that's unable to reach
or a hand that forgets the way out of a pocket
or a foot that sees anywhere to step is wrong.
And the quandaries still come round and round
until his signature twists into a question mark
and he is merely punctuation.

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