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Poetry in Pediatrics
Feb 2012

Flags

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(2):163. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.1166

I am pointed
by the red flag
toward danger, perhaps . . . 
an exanthem turned enanthem,
a marrow awakened at night,
a fever-stiffened neck,
an inappropriate touch.
Once inside,
the green flag
signals everyone.
I am symptomatically
engaged in battle,
an historic examiner,
searching for signs
of imminent death.
Do I need to raise
the blue flag?
A call for oxygen
to the gasps of the cyanotic
for fluids to the
cold and unperfused
vasodilated in vicious cycle
by a circulating enemy?
Or can I move with caution
the yellow flag
yielding more time,
for more information,
to gather blood or
peer through bone
and increase my certainty
of the origin of this war?
By the end of this day,
the white flag
is raised half-mast, perhaps . . . 
to one lost in the fight,
wounded beyond victory
despite the protection
of a doctor fully surrendered.

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