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Poetry and Medicine
July 13, 2005


JAMA. 2005;294(2):156. doi:10.1001/jama.294.2.156

Loader and gunner, brothers from boot camp days,
they came in one platoon to the shock of the war;
daily they huddled together for strength and grace;
each promised to bring the other home once more.
Now both return: two versions of amputee.
It’s back to Lejeune, driving the truck with one hand,
learning the truth about girls—will they nurture and cleave,
or with regret turn to find an unblemished man?
The road treks hard through rehab, shrinks, the V.A.,
edged nights that dream of friends who couldn’t be saved.
The hale will dance and run; few will know what to say,
and pity’s worse than contempt to the souls of the brave.

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