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Poetry and Medicine
April 2, 2014

On Reading Walt Whitman’s “The Wound Dresser”

JAMA. 2014;311(13):1361. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.284776

You dampen dressings with warm water
and detach them from dried blood and pus,
carefully removing layers of gauze
without gown, without gloves. An attendant
stands behind you with a bucket of soiled
bandages and shifts impatiently
from one foot to the other while you work.