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Poetry and Medicine
March 22/29, 2000

Someone in the Bed Is Now Gone

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2000;283(12):1539. doi:10.1001/jama.283.12.1539

All night, lightning flared silently
then, a minute after,
thunder over Pittsburgh International Airport.
The window was hard to open, the neighbor's trees
blue, waiting. Finally,
the rain came quietly, pattering.
In the room, my father's harsh breath drawn in
only partially,
the pssst chunk of the oxygen machine, cycling.
By late morning, sun was sharp.
I ate peanut butter and jelly at the foot of the bed,
and stroked his face when he cried out.
What memories do we take when we go from here?
I'd kept the dresser light dim,
and thunder was like old conversations—
then the sound of a faraway flight.
By noon,
the earth had dried. Nothing left
of the rain, of the long wonderful night,
when everything, damp and naked,
had been as it was in the beginning.