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Poetry and Medicine
April 5, 2000

Eleventh Floor

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2000;283(13):1663. doi:10.1001/jama.283.13.1663

A van near the west parking lot sells bagels,
jelly rolls, hot dogs, and soda. I can't read its sign
from here but I see a workman holding a can
in one hand and eating food in the other
from a paper wrapper. I don't know why
they design these buildings so high. A conference
on hospital architecture should have been convened
to establish the optimum height. I doubt few
have paid attention to this. What if
a patient is acrophobic? Wouldn't it be better
if one were level with a flowering dogwood,
a Japanese maple? From here I look down
on sunsets. Why the eleventh floor? Admissions
is on the first, radiology the second, surgery the third,
pediatrics the fourth, obstetrics the fifth. Everyone knows
what's in the basement. Perhaps that's why
oncology is so far away.