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Poetry and Medicine
March 12, 2014

Out of Ireland

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, State University of New York at Stony Brook
JAMA. 2014;311(10):1072. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.284770

Martin Coulehan (1831-1902)

Martin carries a tin chest to the coast
during the worst year of famine, alone.
He must be the son the family can spare—
the youngest, or the one whose crime
or act of shame has put a premium
on his fleeing. Perhaps he plans to earn
passage for his parents when he arrives
in the golden land, but he reappears
married with a farm in western Maryland,
four times a scribble on census forms—
beyond that, illiterate and mute.

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