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Poetry and Medicine
April 19, 2000


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2000;283(15):1935. doi:10.1001/jama.283.15.1935

"Sort it out, folks, simplify. Now imagine yourself
a calcium ion." Each professor had his own style.
I curiously watched Joe Aleti squint his eyes shut
as if picturing himself a molecule. He so wanted
to be a physician he was willing to imagine himself
almost anything, even a twelve-membered carbon ring.
I found this lecturer's home-spun style corny
and pretentious. "Now suppose too many of you
are crowded in a room and we change the acid base to . . ."
The point of course was to have us understand
calcium metabolism. Later, I was to impart this much differently,
more mechanistic and didactic, certain
they would remember it better. But now as I look back
some thirty years I wonder who had the greater impact.
Sometimes I still see Joe Aleti. He's twisting
his arms and torso into a strange and wonderful shape.