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Poetry and Medicine
February 2, 2000

Visiting Dave

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2000;283(5):580. doi:10.1001/jama.283.5.580

We call it a kind of capability:
You just slide out of the self—then fly.
Carol Muske

We've come to the valley of skulls and moonlight.
They smile in toothless wonder.
There's an air of expectation, but they're not anxious.
They're like a crowd at an execution,
dull-eyed observers with a ticket for the show.
We shake in the tumbrel, taste salt in the air.
It's not that we're unprepared.
Molecule by molecule our bodies moved
toward this moment. The mind knows now
there is no mind-body problem.
The body knows it has no shoes. Impulses
glide down a still spine, contractions relax.
You say you want to go, but the hospital's
got plans, and doors that lock.
They say, "We can fix him." They
want to teach you to eat, to watch TV
and we can't save you from these mercies,
can't send you off as you deserve,
with music, and the family gathered. Listen, Dave.
We love you. We say, fly David. Fly.