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Poetry and Medicine
August 19, 2009

Cling Peaches

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2009;302(7):722. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1056

I’m sitting by your hospital bed
The morning after we almost lost you—
Feeding you canned peaches with
A plastic spoon. You seldom speak,
With cancer ravaging your fine
Mind like a plague of hungry locusts,
But you seem more yourself today
Than you have in weeks. Your
Gaze is tender as a bruise, and my
Hand trembles, lifting the spoon
To your mouth. Your recent rousing
Performance of Husband, Dying,
Has ripped the rose-colored glasses
Right off my face. You aren't going
To get well, after all, despite our
Murmured prayers and midnight
Promises to be good forever, if only.
How like you, though, to hold
A dress rehearsal—eyes shut, your
Leonine head crushing the pillow,
Sheets bunched like drifts of
Snow covering your too-still body.
It became real for me then, your
Death. I wanted to tie you
To the bed rails, stand guard with
A flaming sword, daring anyone,
Anything, to try and take you.
Instead, I feed you cling peaches,
Letting go of you a little more,
My darling, with every bite.