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Poetry and Medicine
October 15, 2008

Summer Study: Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2008;300(15):1736. doi:10.1001/jama.300.15.1736

Bound by diagnosis,
stranded mid-study,
they make the most of it,
as research takes a holiday.
Beneath streamers of red,
white and blue,
they perch in the patient lounge,
dutifully turn pages
of last year's magazines,
half-hearted attempts
at jigsaw puzzles,
someone suggests Monopoly.
Home alone
they abstractly figure the future,
but here monthly changes
align themselves in human form:
those fresh to the disease
noting tingles
like stars bursting
in limbs falling asleep,
while slack-jawed neighbors
coax conversation,
and wheel-chaired pioneers
forge ahead.
The brave ones size each other up
while spouses turn away.
And who can deny
the courage of the man
who accepts a ride
from his projected self,
settles on the back of a scooter
steered by one who has already lost
the use of his legs.