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Poetry and Medicine
February 25, 1998

The Night Nurse

JAMA. 1998;279(8):568AI. doi:10.1001/jama.279.8.568

When you struggle to rise she laughs
and tells you down, down, her hand
spread against your chest. As if
it were happiness to hold you
to this earth. And perhaps it is.
Her enjoyment of you makes me angry;
the way one hand rests
on the small of your back when she turns
you over, and the sigh
this draws from you, like a grip
of birds issuing from your mouth
and unclasping. There are so many
avenues out of this world.
I drive home. The shadows of trees
like little lakes. Grass turning silver
under the wind. Its brightness makes me tired.
That night, I dream of your body under her hands,
something in you standing up
and her voice pleading down, down. I wake
to new light; to crows
belly deep in new grass. Entering the still rooms
night after night, this is what she does
until the spirit finds a form to walk around in.

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