[Skip to Navigation]
[Skip to Navigation Landing]
Citations 0
Poetry and Medicine
June 20, 2007


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2007;297(23):2564. doi:10.1001/jama.297.23.2564

Thailand, 2004

With proboscises, compound eyes and net wings,
a hundred whirring machines
circled and landed on our skin.
Two young women in a two-man tent,
we zipped the screen, closed
cloth windows with metal snaps.
We shut the canvas door, pulled
sleeping bags up to our mouths
in ninety-degree heat. The ocean
crocheted saltwater,
foamed and frothed,
turned creatures into cretins.
How many hermit crabs
died that night?
We heard the sound of our own hands
swatting the tent wall,
accompanied by cussing
and hissing.
With every swat, each bad word,
the shock of blood
reddened dank walls.
At dawn we found swollen welts
on arms and necks,
beneath our thick, humid hair.
Breasts and thighs weren't spared.
On my ankle a red bruise
became a hellish itch.
We drove back to the bungalow
in a silence inclined toward insanity—
its fevers and hallucinations.