Rafael Campo

November 26, 2017 Campo Rafael



She speaks for him, her husband’s deepening
dementia like a river through which she
has led him to this place, its current strong
but not unconquerable.  Carefully,

she holds his hand, still guiding him as in
Korean now the translator explains
what I have said.  Stiff-backed, his peaceful grin
a mask that tries to hide the tumor’s pain,

he sits as if imagining he sees
her face beyond a soundless waterfall,
through mist that moistens his unblinking eyes.
His wife says, “Doctor, sorry, is that all?”

RAFAEL CAMPO teaches and practices internal medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, where he also directs the Art and Humanities Initiative’s Literature and Writing Program.  He is also the Poetry Section Editor for JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Author of nine highly acclaimed books, his honors and awards include a Guggenheim fellowship and a Lambda Literary.  His poetry and essays have appeared The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times, Poetry, Scientific American and elsewhere.  He lectures widely, with recent appearances at TEDx Cambridge, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Library of Congress. His new and selected volume of poems, Comfort Measures Only, is now available from Duke University Press.  For more information, please visit www.rafaelcampo.com.