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Poetry and Medicine
March 9, 2011

Toward the Sliding Door

Author Affiliations
 

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

JAMA. 2011;305(10):976. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.171

Cold and bright outside the market.
Stark shadows fall north
off the lot's poles and parked cars.
A small man hunched inside his parka’s
bulk now lifts the other foot,
slow again—he steps
toward the sliding door, white
hair static-spread in windless
air about his pink-skinned head.
He is expressionless, angelic.
What was I angry about? Your note—
did it pronounce me dead?
I hear the quiet motor,
glide-whisper and stop of the glass-
and-aluminum door. He disappears
behind it.
    It took him
all his years and more to enter
that paradise of pears
and cauliflowers, ripeness
in the land of ice—he got there
before his nerves froze. The bones
in my fingers hurt with cold outside
my pockets. It's good to feel it.

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