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Poetry and Medicine
January 2, 2013

Mitral Valve Prolapse

Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: Ross, California (beckyfoust@hotmail.com).

JAMA. 2013;309(1):12. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.13650

It comes from before the time
in the womb, the defect
that causes this restless whispering
—trees stirring their limbs,
surf murmuring at the shore with
tongues of flame—
Adam longs for the rung from his
Aristophanes for the self-cleft-from
-self. The great wheel
skips. Newton's particle maintains
ellipse, but only
while its valence repels, and the shape
it makes is a wave,
looping across the time-space
What once was fluent in orbit about
something perfect
stutters. I am disturbed by it, this
internal turbulence
but am assured that it is not precisely
fatal, that it is
no more than an imperfect perfection
of seal, no more
than the failure to close with conviction
the heart's deepest door.