Life is and is not like a poem.

The poem enters a room with variable dimensions

And all at once I feel it sway.

My feet enter a room and its colors are always the same.

A line comes dressed with the surprise of sudden stops

And redresses itself with every turn it makes into the next;

There is no dirty laundry hanging on the line.

A day without lines is a day filled with boredom.

An average line escapes like a melodic flute or trombone

Towards the back of an orchestra;

In my everyday world it’s the only instrument I play.

I pay out the line as the poem comes near to its dock.

A poem has a theory of movement and each movement a sign;

A life has more movements and hopes for more time.

Michael Salcman

MICHAEL SALCMAN: poet, physician and art historian, was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum. Poems appear in Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, The Café Review, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, and Poet Lore. Books include The Clock Made of Confetti, The Enemy of Good is Better, Poetry in Medicine, his popular anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness & healing, A Prague Spring, Before & After, winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize, and Shades & Graces, inaugural winner of The Daniel Hoffman Legacy Book Prize (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020). Necessary Speech: New & Selected Poems was published by Spuyten Duyvil in 2022.

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