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Poetry and Medicine
April 18, 2007

For the Record

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2007;297(15):1628. doi:10.1001/jama.297.15.1628

Down a corridor of cages
in their basement ward,
my patients congregate
in cardboard cubicles.
Resigned, they wait
in rows of coded folders
lined with paper, sentenced
seven years' internment.
Alphabetic names escape
the labels, breathing out
the odd complaint,
holographic shadows,
Dopplered histories,
echoes of interventions.
Late at night,
I hear them sigh
and shift a little,
settling deeper
in their sheets,
the yellowed edges
curling to embrace
their powdered bones,
dissolving into ink.

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