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Poetry and Medicine
January 5, 2011

Lake Effect: A Heart Sonnet

Author Affiliations
 

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

JAMA. 2011;305(1):18. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1847

As pressure builds, cold moisture condenses over Lake
Ontario—a pale coating spreads along shoulders, falls in sheets,
covering sloping rooftops, and in its wake
leaves gutters crystalline, sharp where a stab of ice meets
afternoon runoff. Thick parapets of snow balance
precariously atop power lines and shroud white-
tipped branches. Drifts rise in cold, short breaths that glance
off buildings, stall below door jambs. A steady, light,
ceaseless plumage layering the sidewalk in front
of Freeport Elementary where Mr Chellis, lead
shovel in hand, arm growing numb, upheaves the brunt
of wet strata, until, light-headed, laden with bushels of dead
weight, late mid-day's clutch tightens—its vacant stare
a burst of heartbeats as rescue sirens kaleidoscope thin air.

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