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Poetry and Medicine
September 15, 2020


JAMA. 2020;324(11):1112. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.5898

Your scars remind me of the silvery bottom of fish
before they turn upwards. When I was younger,
you took me fishing. The solution, you said, was not to
build more lakes. Instead, you gently unhooked
the smallest of fish before letting them wiggle away.
So easy to forget the crimson. Slowly dissipating
in the cool, still water and the budding morning light.

Squares of sunlight soften upon cool white sheets.
You tell me that you are getting better, to not worry.
Such phrases flow easily like the rise of your ribs,
before they divide and fan out. A lifetime of mouths
fed has led me to this. Knowledge is a dangerous thing.
My wishes are simple: to slip under the cool water,
teach you to swim, and slip off my white coat entirely.

Section Editor: Rafael Campo, MD, MA, Associate Editor.
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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Ellen Zhang (ellenzhang2008@gmail.com).

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

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