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Poetry and Medicine
October 6, 2010

Death by CVA

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2010;304(13):1419. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1359

I wonder, father, what you must have felt
the instant of your accident (as it’s
called, as if the cards were simply misdealt)
while you sat watching the Olympics.
For in the minuscule lifetime it took
a million million firing neurons
to blow their fuses, the hemorrhagic shock
took everything you’d ever thought, loved, done,
illuminating the mindless lights
flaring up in swift synchronicity,
lighting your way into the new night,
transcending the last right of mortality—
so suddenly you probably felt nothing,
pain being a phenomenon of the living.