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Poetry and Medicine
December 3, 2008

The White Doves of Mazar

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2008;300(21):2462. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.695

for Nabila
For crusts of bread
these sacred birds entrust
their bodies to your hands
despite the evidence of blood
in every street
and twenty-seven years of war.
Though nothing will change
for the Hazaras and Uzbeks,
the Pashtuns and Tajiks,
the Arabs, Russians, and Americans
try nonetheless to feel
the slight heart beat
against your palms. Touch
the trembling wings
and ruffed head—
helpless now and beautiful—
as if they were the framed,
unfinished faces of the dead.