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Poetry and Medicine
October 1, 2003

Bone Poem

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2003;290(13):1682. doi:10.1001/jama.290.13.1682

Tell me again about the slick bones
of the skull: occipital, frontal, temporal, parietal,
and the forgiving groove of fontanels grown
stone-hard and stubborn. Tell me about
cervical and thoracic vertebrae rising
from the lover's lumbar curve, about clavicles
and sternum, and floating ribs falling south.
Tell me about humerus, twisting dance of radius
and ulna, how all twenty-eight phalanges
swing open on the hand's silent hinges.
Tell me about cane-shaped femurs, the fluted
pipe of tibia, and slender, clasping fibula,
tarsals wide and sure, and calcaneum, the calculus
of our unending path. Tell me about the smooth bowl
of the pelvis with its high and wide iliac crests,
the sacrifice of sacrum, and coccyx, memory of tail.
Tell me again about the bony tools of the ear,
how hammer, stirrup, and anvil return to us
the sounds of our small, miraculous lives.