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Poetry and Medicine
November 13, 2002

Judgment Day

JAMA. 2002;288(18):2229. doi:10.1001/jama.288.18.2229

for Tempe (1911-2001)

The bones of your clothes, the bones
of your shoes, gone.
Your craft of ash sailing into
another world, colder, lacking the purity of bones.
The will, gone
like a red thread in the wind.
Your life, a loping wolf, gone
across the fields.
Your sky torn away, the brute block of self
pulverized, scattered wide. It must be a silk
sensation, soft ash
between the fingers, or cold money
deposited in God's bank, the answer written
by gold weeds
in a slab of winter ice, a single syllable
to be plucked out with the hot, heron-toed forceps
and recited in light
of the daily burnings. By God himself. Yes or no.

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