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Poetry and Medicine
July 2, 2003

Varicella

JAMA. 2003;290(1):14. doi:10.1001/jama.290.1.14

You were so sick with varicella—
A name to name a wished-for daughter—
Pocked and quickened for this labor
Of heavy lungs, taut and quiet
As if admonished not to breathe.
I counted the tubes: airway, gastric,
Bladder, two chest tubes on the right
And on the left one sharply entered
Beside your breast, engorged and pocked
With eschars where dewdrops had fallen
As on rose petals, delicate and fresh,
Moist and true as the sigh
Of your new child's first breath,
As you, ex-gravid, breathless, died.

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