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Poetry and Medicine
November 3, 2010

Perchance to Dream

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2010;304(17):1874. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1537

So this is how the mind goes,
one fuzzy item at a time,
the lint of life floating through the brain
like so much snow, a certain stillness
at dawn. No need to find the car keys,
grab a coffee to drink on the expressway
in the prison of one's car.
There's plenty of time now to miss the turn
for the grocery while thinking about dinner
or yesterday's chat with a former student,
Dianne something, who wrote a paper
on Melville, used to be a runner, scholarship
to Duke, or was it Northwestern?
It used to be so hard
to empty the mind of committees, meetings,
the colleague who knew everything,
to stagger out of bed in the dark just to write a note—
call so-and-so first thing in the morning—
then to lie back under the covers, waiting
for the anesthetic of sleep, that sweet paralysis
of the mind that now creeps in unbidden
at two in the afternoon when I nod off,
an old copy of The Stranger falling from my hands,
the sound of rain breaking a month-long drought
with the remembered scent of ozone.

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