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Poetry and Medicine
June 6, 2007

The Doctor Who Says You’re Not Going to Die

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to jamapoems@jama-archives.org.

JAMA. 2007;297(21):2326. doi:10.1001/jama.297.21.2326

So that isn't a tumor
hidden like a motorcycle cop
behind a billboard,
out to trap your speeding life.
It isn't some great ugly growth
born of how careless you’ve been
engaged in a long drawn-out brawl
with your brain cells
that only it can win.
It's not all the worst things
you remember
pulped into a massive lump
of toxic cells, poison blood,
paying you back for being
the cause of some of them.
It's not Dan's revenge
or Ilsa's legacy
or Esther's voodoo plotting from afar.
It's just these headaches
like the world can give you.
It's like a pain that picks you
the way you choose
clothes to wear.
It suits to throb inside you for a time
but not forever.
The doctor nods,
untrembles you with a soothing,
“It will pass.”
He then writes a prescription
for your illness,
not for your life, thank god.