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msJAMA
November 1, 2000

Grandpa

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JAMA. 2000;284(17):2245. doi:10.1001/jama.284.17.2245-JMS1101-7-1

William Carlos Williams Poetry Contest Winners

SECOND PLACE

Grandpa, the mushrooms are moving
Up through leaves and twigs
Up past the worms curled,
Crickets perched
Up to the wet rain
That licks the whole woods
Into a glazed song
Slick and sweet
As your morning donut
waiting Grandpa, the salamanders are moving
Up through the mud
In slow crawls
From under mossy boards and
Edges of wet lipped ponds
Passing through leaves
Sliding past corners of the house
Out to the air that is thick and wet
As the space over your cold coffee
waiting Grandpa, the black birds are moving
Hundreds of them
Filling the thin spring trees
Till the tree is solid bird
Branches and ground covered with white droppings
Bowing limbs from the weight of bird
We try to save the trees by throwing rocks
But the swarm only lifts momentarily
Then settles like a black sky collapsing
Like dark dust in your house, collecting on your piano
waiting waiting
They say the wait is over
That your lungs stopped moving
That it was quick, little pain
But these are things that are said
Without realizing
The woods wait
For your boots to sink a trail
For your hands to plant your ginseng
On the ridge above the sycamore
There is waiting
That won't go away

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