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Poetry and Medicine
June 10, 1998

Leaving the Clinic

JAMA. 1998;279(22):1766S. doi:10.1001/jama.279.22.1766

Florida, 1996

Having carried your own
terrible frailness
to the edge of the water
you bent your body sharply
like a broken stick, until
you were kneeling in the sand.
If the world weren't so damned
beautiful , you said, maybe
dying wouldn't be so bad—
But then you saw how a small rain
had pocked the creamy skin
of the beach overnight
causing snails to leave their sanctuaries,
and the pursed hibiscus buds
to fatten and explode,
and with the sea collapsing around us,
thinning to a glassy sheen
that blinded you
you hid your face
behind your hands and shook
with unrequited love.

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