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Poetry and Medicine
July 12, 2006

Nursing Home

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2006;296(2):146. doi:10.1001/jama.296.2.146

Here is the courage of men and women
whose bones have dissolved or, for some, exploded
impacting on sidewalks or tiled entranceways
and let them down into machines with wheels
and removable footrests, into beds with gears,
metal side guards attendants lift and lock in place
like flags on mailboxes, sealed messages waiting
for someone to deliver to someone
(it's so hard to remember) who maybe
can decipher the code: I am here
boxed and catalogued
in this parts store of what is left
shelved and labeled for easy identification
pinned to sheets by tubes conveying and removing
fluids to and from the body,
from and to bags closing and opening like lungs
taking one long breath and letting it out.

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