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Poetry and Medicine
June 4, 2019

Trypan Blue

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
JAMA. 2019;321(21):2137. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.2489

At night when I come home, there is one bright window
in the blackness—you dress and undress and un-undress.
The bruises are spreading, now—when you lift your arms
above your head, the bruises fold out like wings.

There is a dye this color blue that stains cells if they have died—
it helps me to pass over the dead in my daily count of the living.
Under the microscope in the mornings, the cells I watch are bright and floating.
Alive, the cells will not let the blue inside of them,
but when they die they can no longer keep it out,
and then the blue comes in, and it fills them up.

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