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Poetry and Medicine
August 13, 2019

Neither Pause nor Gaze at What Is Passing

JAMA. 2019;322(6):584. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.4496

For weeks, she said little,
hummed moans in sweet chords, pale florets blooming
on cheeks, chest, breasts.

So much damage. The eye—
only a glimpse. Bloody, blind, suture-shut, tumor-thrust,
bulging from its socket.
Brain of invisible rocks and shards.
What is this death but a scream? Mercifully, she sleeps all day.

A thousand mouths of saviors sing, but none will take her place.
How easy to discard this garment, she says.

When I come, the good eye opens a slit. Her hand reaches,
touches, finds me.
I’ve brought the lethal cup.
She gives a smile, a signal—not afraid.

She leans into my shoulder, takes tiny sips.
As she swallows, he looks away,
lest she see his tears with her blind eye.

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

Corresponding Author: Risa Denenberg, MSN, ARNP (risaden@gmail.com).

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

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