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Poetry and Medicine
September 20, 2000


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2000;284(11):1353. doi:10.1001/jama.284.11.1353

On the railroad trestle,
boneblack and skeletal,
CAUTION in bright kermes
delivers the homily.
But look, they've built a footbridge
in its somber shadow
just above the dam,
weld pine in sturdy planks,
and set a little plaque
(Bleachery and Dyeworks)
in the cobbled sluice
that slopes from parking lot
to sunken shopping carts.
On the sandy bank
goslings in fustic down
nip bread from toddlers dressed
in madder rose and indigo.
The mothers hover, hiss,
in quercitron and murex
feathers and spandex
beneath a sky of woad
where a blackbird's cochineal epaulet
streaks from rush to reed.
I must repaint the scene.
More mordant, aniline.
Tree trunks, Bismark brown.
Some bushes, methyl green.
A sky, alizarin
(it's sunset, now, of course)
inlaid with hydron blue.
A flanthrene finch,
a Hoffman's violet,
and a river, urea yellow,
that combs its prostrate fronds
of dark, invasive, papillary red.