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Poetry and Medicine
October 8, 2019


Author Affiliations
  • 1Laguna Honda Hospital, San Francisco, California
JAMA. 2019;322(14):1421. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.12256

The world on its axis, handheld and spinning—
yours, after illness.

A season you didn’t count on, a shirt
without sleeves,

the eye blinking at its own good fortune,
your paintbrush dipped into blue.

You’re finished with months of night sweats,
misread tests, the free fall of white cells.

Pigment + perspective = sky.

The edge of a lake, tail feathers, cerulean
is what you pick first.

You want to depict the shifting of light,
a flickering far back in the branches.

What you can’t see, you imagine,
a coolness drifting beneath your hat’s brim.

There’s time, says your body, to look again—
an hour, an afternoon,

everything given to get the wings just right.

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

Corresponding Author: Sharon Pretti (slpretti@sbcglobal.net).

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

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