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Poetry and Medicine
December 19, 2007

How Odd, That All These Things Are Happening

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2007;298(23):2716. doi:10.1001/jama.298.23.2716

Chest shaved, electrodes hooked up,
I'm on the treadmill, walking fast,
my heart is functioning well,
beep, beep, beep. . . on an uphill slope:
there are sugar balances that need
to be maintained, food digested,
enzyme levels shifting,
phalanxes of white blood cells
attacking at the first sign
of bacteria: it leaves me
wondering who's in charge?
even as my doctor, monitoring
me, while I start to sweat
on the moving track, says
I'm doing OK. Billions of people
on earth. And yet how
or why—I never said I do at the start—
did I end up in a body,
that doesn't feel at all
like me; but rather detached, ticking—
partner to what strange tyranny
that makes us one?

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