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Poetry and Medicine
March 8, 2000

Waiting Room, Mt Sinai Hospital

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2000;283(10):1258. doi:10.1001/jama.283.10.1258

The sand sprawls sideways in the hour-glass
but grain by grain the seconds stick and slip.
White-coated, white with hope and white with fear,
I sit with heavy eyelid, tightened lip.
Too tired to sleep, too frightened to awake
and feel time's narrow throat drinking me down,
I sway uneasy in the Red Sea's maw;
I cannot break the surface, cannot drown.
The waves coil back to left, to right of me;
breakers curve over me; they do not fall,
smothering, pounding; my feet pull me on,
the sand sucks at my feet, and that is all
Except when a far scent whose sweetness stabs
blows from the crossing's edge, where all the sands
give into summer grass, unmown, and where
smiling, made whole, perhaps my father stands.