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Poetry and Medicine
December 5, 2007

One Night on the Porch at Meyer's Creek

Author Affiliations
 

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

JAMA. 2007;298(21):2455. doi:10.1001/jama.298.21.2455

The others, tired of picking meat
from blue-claw crabs, drifted inside
leaving the pile to my dying father and me
as the sun and moon hung like an artist's mistake
on opposite sides of the same dusk.
We bent to our work with lips and nails—
sucking thin legs, digging mustard from carapace,
our fingers raw and slick as memory.
We didn't speak, but there was sound enough:
the crack of shell yielding to mallet; flicker
trapped in the lantern; moths beating the screen
for light; a lone outboard across the water
racing night home, and the slap-slap of its wake.
Darkness took all but the distance between us
across the plank table. Then the lantern failed
so we ate by feel to the heartbeat of crickets
and warm beer whispering up the bottle neck.
Finally we were ghosts in a gone place
with nothing, for once, to prove,
nothing to get, sweetened by silence.
If sound weren't beyond us
there’d have come a humming in the dark.

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