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Poetry and Medicine
January 26, 2016


Author Affiliations
  • 1University of California, San Francisco

Copyright 2016 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2016;315(4):420. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.10094

Along the mountains of Tibet,
square flags hang, printed with prayers
and mantras that slowly
fade. Their essence, it is said,
dissolves into the wind
and uplifts all beings the wind touches.

In hospice, I watch the woman
as she sits outside, one hand
gripping the porch railing, light refracting
off the thinned skin of her lids,
mind tangled with thoughts
we cannot know.

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