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Poetry and Medicine |


Beatrice Lazarus
JAMA. 2012;307(5):436. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.2006.
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Published online


As if in love, the fallopian tube curls
its slender fingers around the ovary,
embracing a dream in the peritoneal
cradle the body makes for it.
She imagines the small orb like a pumping
heart nestled in the tube's curved caress,
begging to be spared. The boneless tendrils
pried under knife from the sensitive sheath
unclenching to wave good-bye.
A tick, a hum, a purr, wakes her
from the anesthetic's cool cocoon.
She hears the beating of a sacred pulse
when it's lifted from the body, limp and puckered,
as if gently from a crib. Pink-white globe
turning like a little girl
clings to her skin. She imagines
protozoan armbuds, eyeblinks, glimpse of a face
with minuscule scars like something fallen
from the sky, its connective purpose
left behind in the surgical dome of light.
She does not understand
why the ovary shines, perishing,
the brilliant bud whisked on a sterile tray
into a stranger's gloved palm, the pathologist
seeking errant cells in the corpse,
perhaps the thin lining of a stray
soul where nothing is left
but undulating womb, galactic
black space, tiny grave of
bloodied fruit. How hard it is to say
good-bye to a perfect glimmer
stripped away, heartlands of herself
dispersed. This ravaged bud, born for love,
escaping danger. Her hand trembles,
reaching for the scar like a bullet hole
she covers with stretch pants,
her belly gutted clean as bone,
swollen with ashes.


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