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Poetry and Medicine
March 2, 2005


JAMA. 2005;293(9):1041. doi:10.1001/jama.293.9.1041

I held the upright piano in my arms,
a friend suddenly become an enemy,
sliding off the casters in an auditorium closet,
hemming me in like an old lover.
In that split second before the fall,
I calculated the relative damage
of dropping it heavily on one foot
or letting it ride gently down my leg.
I slid to the floor and set it on my shin,
going for the clean break rather than the crush.
On rainy days I still feel the tibia’s white line
damply raised under fingers that press away ache,
and try to re-imagine all the years that sang and played
since I was twenty-four and Joe the janitor was late
for rehearsal and the sopranos were warming up
and the basses milling around them like lost stars,
and I, young and impatient with a baton,
wanting to start on time, craving the sound
of a hundred voices coming alive in a single downbeat.