Academic Medicine:
Medicine and the Arts

Swimming

Coulehan, Jack

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“Swimming” was originally published in the January 25, 1995, issue of JAMA.

Lisa Dittrich, deputy editor of Academic Medicine, is the editor of “Medicine and the Arts.” Unsolicited submissions are welcome.

I suppose she'll always be diving

into the Schuylkill River,

surviving, until I get there.

She'll be showing at six months

the sweet rise of a dance

and, for all I know, her child

will cry out for justice—

if not for love—when I arrive.

My head will always be

drifting in thought, a chill

of moisture in my cheeks,

as I listen to her gut.

I suppose she'll be waking

to the roaring of the sun

and falling asleep again,

and the beds will forever

be full and for all I know

I'll always be sending her

off to the psych house,

after phoning the whole city

to toss me a yes.

I suppose the last I'll see

of her smile is that half-hearted pass

at the ambulance cop—

And, of course, her brain

will always begin

to bleed—as she's swimming out.

© 2001 Association of American Medical Colleges

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