Picks and Pans Review: Poetry's Power to Heal

updated 07/03/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/03/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

There are no answers to her son Ike's debilitating illness, but in Blue Peninsula, Madge McKeithen reveals how poems help her cope.

WHAT DOES IKE SUFFER FROM? He developed normally until he was 14, in 1997. Then he began dragging his right leg and had pain in his shins. Today he uses a motorized scooter and has progressive dementia. Doctors think it's an error of metabolism, but it has no name.

HOW DO POEMS HELP EASE YOUR PAIN? They're a way of connecting with others who've experienced intense emotions—of realizing that even the most desperate things are not unique to me.

YOUR FAVORITE POEM? I love "Walking with Grief" from the Celtic Daily Prayer: "Be gentle with the one who walks in grief. If it is you be gentle with yourself ..."

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