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Poetry and Medicine
May 22/29, 2002

The Long Hall

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2002;287(20):2620. doi:10.1001/jama.287.20.2620

The old man only wants to walk
the hall. He cannot smile. He goes
from locked door to blazing windows
and back, fists clenched, able to talk
of nothing but his need to get
out. Blind in light, he scowls and turns
back. The dark at the far end turns
out to be a door again, yet
his hopes for light there never die.
As long as he moves there is hope.
Light and dark, a kaleidoscope
blanched and turning in his mind's eye.
The shut door, the windows ablaze,
the long hall with its sparkling walls,
closed rooms, and the shadow that calls
his name as he walks down the days.