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Poetry and Medicine
September 26, 2007


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2007;298(12):1372. doi:10.1001/jama.298.12.1372

With the transparent
mask over her mouth,
she could be an astronaut
too sick to fly, the skin
fever-red, the too-heavy bones
pushing themselves
forward for air.
I sit against the wall,
so carefully dressed
I could disappear.
I breathe only
when necessary.
I stay to lend company,
to learn the etiquette
of dying. I stay
to see myself
dying (before
I have to), dying
but not yet dead.
If I can watch
this, I can keep us
safe forever, even
when I sojourn
in space and lie under
a mask and breathe
with my bones.