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Poetry and Medicine
August 21, 2002


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2002;288(7):805. doi:10.1001/jama.288.7.805

A skiff or whaler caught
in a northeaster far out
praying to ride the crests,
not founder in the troughs,
and reach whatever shore—
That's the cyst in shades
of gray on the sonogram
while the device like an MC's mike
skims the dead-calm surface
of the questionable left breast.
Benign, reads the report.
Yet just as meteorologists
with radar screens and satellites,
helmsmen with sextants and charts,
cannot always guess right,
so a shipwrecked skipper
at the lifeboat's oars
must keep rowing, hoping, rowing
toward what might be a port,
or the wind-spun heart of a hurricane.