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Poetry and Medicine
June 26, 2013

In Vellore, Tamil Nadu

Author Affiliations

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

Author Affiliation: Worcester, Massachusetts (mashahinda@yahoo.com).

JAMA. 2013;309(24):2524. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.511

        (not so many years ago)
Dr Paul Brand, on the berm of
        a great, a humane discovery,
        continued perplexed, unable
     to ascertain what precisely was strange
              as he observed
a group of still-sighted lepers out
              sitting in the sun;
then suddenly he saw they were not blinking
        & understood &
could tell the world after centuries of
        darkness and terror that
        such suffering is not an evil
              visitation, not an
        untouchable decrepitude
     of the flesh, but a prosaic
        incapacitation of
     peripheral nerves
that do not convey to a leper's brain
              the pain we free of
this disease experience beneath the threshold
              of awareness, the pain
whispering to us throughout
     the day to blink so as to not go blind.