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Poetry and Medicine
November 19, 2003

Macaroni and Prose

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2003;290(19):2520. doi:10.1001/jama.290.19.2520

You imagine her marooned in your childhood,
like a smell that means Mother's kitchen,
a perennial tale for your own children.
But she outgrew your youth.
You notice the food I bring is relished
after so much has gone untouched,
offerings poked at, thrown away. It's not a trick;
I already know what she likes to read.
I bring shopping bags and a cooler but unwrap
the allusions first: I feel like the Homesick Restaurant-to-go
or There's a certain slant of light and she will finish
the stanza with me. Are you surprised by
her inner life apart from you, your brothers,
her husband these many years gone? From books
to old recipes, from housewife to scholar,
she turned solitude into a cozy puzzle
of making tea while thinking of a good transition.
Now she needs us both: your care and memory,
my macaroni and prose, our heads bowed toward her,
to read the hunger of sleep.