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Poetry and Medicine
February 23, 2011

Closed Head Injury

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2011;305(8):749. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.2001

to Pamela Gross, all gratitude

I don't remember what happened
except, as I lay on my back
on the asphalt,
I dreamt I was still shopping
      for a raincoat
   for my husband.
I’d carried my two-year-old past
a donut shop, where
policemen sat beneath
   garish lights.
How it troubled me, to hear
that woman
   screaming the name
      of her son.
The doctors say I was lucky.
The accident: a hit and run.
And now time drifts
and I float on it
like a paper boat
down a storm sewer.
More than likely,
nothing that precedes
the five minutes before
the five minutes before
an ambulance siren
can ever be erased from the brain’s
gray matter,
its cache and sieve.
And I, almost happy—
as if listening to
wind-fed rapids
rushing down rock faces—
foam frothing, swollen.
I recall asking the medic
if my legs were gone,
or were we at the airport on stand-by.