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Poetry and Medicine
June 28, 2016

We only have our body

Author Affiliations
  • 1Newton, Massachusetts

Copyright 2016 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2016;315(24):2737. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.2000

to express the words, our happiness, or our sorrow.

—Isabel Boyán, flamenco dancer, Boston Globe, February 13, 2009

Curl, and rest your head.
There is no separation.
We are the rooms and the gates
that stand in open places,
unsealed and closed behind us, becoming fewer.
How do we move through the pain of what cannot continue?
When I was five years old and my memories began
in the sun among blackberries,
I found a hen becoming maggots,
its feathers of beauty stirring on the earth.
Death cannot be healed. Our birth
rises to it, as a firefly from the shadows.