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Poetry and Medicine
February 11, 2004

Evening Ice Cream

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2004;291(6):668. doi:10.1001/jama.291.6.668

A door that needed a code
had risen between them,
Bill left to travel each day
from their apartment for two
on the retirement side,
through the double security doors,
to the health care side of the complex
for their sharing of evening ice cream.
In her new room,
he would always pull a chair
as close to the bed as he could
for their traditional treat of that frozen form
while it should hold its solidity.
And while he would utter her name,
but she not his,
the spoon would rise, and rise again,
toward a blank face
that he would call "dear."
The corners of her mouth
would he gently scoop and rescoop
with brushes of spoon-edge.
Yet, at times, a catch of remembrance
would pull him into reveries;
and, while he sat frozen, drifted away,
the white near her mouth would slowly melt
until a large, evening drop
would flow on its way,
down that great blankness,
unable to stay.