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Poetry and Medicine
November 3, 2004

Return to Brooklyn

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2004;292(17):2054. doi:10.1001/jama.292.17.2054

Grandma, can you see
   Cropsy Avenue
from Miami General’s ICU?
   Or smell the sear
of Nathan’s hots, back
   when Coney Island
was safe,
   and your accent thick
as hot pastrami?
Those years at Wellesley,
   those Kennebunk summers
they honed your tongue
   to a blue-blood blade.
But storms of emboli came
   and every squall
blanched the marrow
   of your brain.
The more we lost
   of you,
the more your speech
those Brooklyn vowels.
   “I want some cawfee,”
you whisper.
I hold your hand
   and hear
the rattled heave
   of your lungs.
Grandma, can you smell
   the sear
of Nathan’s hots
   as you weave your way
back to Brooklyn?