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Poetry and Medicine
June 20, 2012

Family Doctor

Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: Preston Medical Library, University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, Knoxville (djdoyle@utmck.edu).

JAMA. 2012;307(23):2467. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3552

Years later his fragrance found me,
cornered in a crowded elevator.
Floor after floor, scent climbed,
not musty tweeds hanging loose
in my great-grandfather's closet,
or thick tobacco smoke lathered
on my grandfather's stubbled chin.
Not even the milky Old Spice bottle
or emerald Brut shelved shining side
by side in my father's medicine cabinet,
but some aroma subtle as soap clinging
in steamed air soon after a shower.
Still, my search leads me to fondle,
inhale clustered department store bottles,
when left barely dressed in exam rooms,
to lean and breathe air near the soap dispenser.
Such is the posture of my desire—
bowed toward finding the man who
lightly touched me, who listened
to my heart and lungs, and always
ever after, left me better than before.