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Poetry and Medicine
July 22/29, 1998

My Love and Back Surgery

Author Affiliations

Edited by Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1998;280(4):310X. doi:10.1001/jama.280.4.310

for Janet
My love came with whiskey and a small knife
and cut me down the spine. She packed
my ribs with snow and fox grape,
then tied me shut with floss. The kiss
on my mouth was soft as breath. Forks
of rabbit and mint and orange flesh
and she sang, "The wild deer of West Virginia
are running on the moon, running
over the gray dust of the moon." The months
she laid the heavy bags of sand on
my legs and chest and neck I could not
moan or sleep. Then like green sparks
when she combs her black hair at midnight:
spring came, new grass, high wind and morning rain,
the hard whisper of her voice: "Walk the hollow now."
The ferns made shadows on her breast, I knelt to drink.

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