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August 7, 1981


Author Affiliations

Rhode Island Hospital Providence

JAMA. 1981;246(6):617. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320060023007

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The cheeks and chin Of innocence and excesses, The celebration of celibacy, The changes of age, All crumble in one soft adjective Typed in a space named prognosis; Slain by a foregone assumption: "Terminal" spelling "hopeless"— Or "imminent." Unleashed in remission, Charged in a costume of health, You find laundry still waiting And the kids always hungry. You endure relapse and induction Through pity, and anger, And the recklessness of despair To snicker at the actuarial graph, Then holler, "What's to be done with me?"

You weep alone at the mumbled reply Then re-emerge for conventional tasks, With "pressing" and "granted" both felled as equals Within the grim perspective of incurable disease. In this urgent scramble, No time remains for fear or rage. So it seems the writ of health, Lost to greedy blasts, Has carried the senseless along its retreat. Now your undressed heart Pumps clean and free As