November 22, 1985

First Payment

JAMA. 1985;254(20):2957. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360200111042

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In the waiting room, she releases her white hair from a blue gauze scarf. Her body has accepted the disease with no cure, her questions are dried snail shells. The pain stays, with the appetite of crabgrass. She cannot reach inside, pluck it out by the roots.

Some days, she wants to be only a gust of winter wind sweeping the fresh snow into drifts & whorls on the prairie, filtering through an apple orchard. She might linger, wrap herself around naked branches, wait for spring buds. She might even learn to be patient for the orange sun to drag the bleached skeleton of each day behind the snow-tinted hills.

The intercom calls. Clenching her body, she lifts herself up with a gnarled, polished walking stick. In the examining room, her eyes wander over the fresh table, the chrome lamp with its fixed gaze.

The student knocks and enters, ready