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Poetry and Medicine
September 5, 2007

Cadaver

Author Affiliations
 

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

JAMA. 2007;298(9):960. doi:10.1001/jama.298.9.960

We have but hands to bear what burden might,
by burden's nature, uninvited come,
and feet to, pressing, roll the Earth despite
what dust they are and shall again become.
We have but lips to give what they alone
can give and tongues to painfully transpose
the symphony of thought to flesh and bone
that from this withered petal comes a rose.
But all we have we have to sacrifice
since all we have is less than all we are,
and but by death might pay the highest price
to count our sandy selves among the stars.
Then dusk perhaps will be the seed of dawn—
Perhaps what laughed and loved will carry on.

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