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Poetry and Medicine
June 6, 2001


JAMA. 2001;285(21):2688. doi:10.1001/jama.285.21.2688

In the Japanese tea ceremony it is customary
to hold the cup to one's forehead
and apologize for drinking first. What ceremony
catalyzes the divergence of mind from heart?
What takes brother or lover to the windy ledge
then down to sudden pavement?
The answering machine preserves the voice—
last night's promises disappear like steam.
The bereaved wander in search of mud
to smear their faces. The rest of us, left
upright on two good legs, wonder at our hearts
steadily beating blood
to the farthest capillary loop.
The child-mind loves itself, nears the edge
merely to marvel at the view. Which delicate portion
warns us back? And which part breaks the cup?

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