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Poetry and Medicine
June 27, 2001

she was a model

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2001;285(24):3062. doi:10.1001/jama.285.24.3062

and did some television
after the war—
that's her bedside
black and white glossy,
the Barbara Stanwyck hair
bounding at her shoulders—
before settling down with
twin sons
later she dealt with the breast
without visualizing or the Thursday
night support group even
when it seeded bone she lived
around it through it beside it
fourteen years without saying it
never cared for the word, was
annoyed when the doctor's office
became a Cancer Center with
dreadful waiting-room stories
those poor people, all their problems
till the jaundice itch
twice-failed shunt
dye-failed kidneys and
diuretic drip deafness
that cleared long enough
to tell her she was sick (I know)
no, really sick this time
may not get better (so fast?)
she asked for paper and
without counsel or notary
wrote in her own
steady-handed script that
she'd always admired, respected
and was grateful for doctors
but was never in awe of them—
so hasty, so fallible
and asked her boys to
recall her recuperative powers
let the spirit guide
allow time for miracles
then it was like sleeping
eyes closed jaw dropped
accessory shrugs jerking
shoulders to the edge
of still blonde hair with
each resonant breath
coming later and later