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Pectoriloquy |

October Escape FREE TO VIEW

Robin Talbert, BA, JD
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Editor’s Note:The author writes, “An unrelated CT scan detected a nodule in my lower left lung. A 63-year-old nonsmoker, I had no risk factors for lung cancer. Thanks to excellent care from my pulmonologist, a cardiothoracic surgeon, and other health-care professionals, I am cancer free following the removal last fall of a Stage 1A non-small cell adenocarcinoma tumor. I wrote this poem in anticipation of the surgery.“ Robin Talbert is a nonprofit management consultant and writer and was formerly the President of the AARP Foundation. She has a BA in English Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a JD from Washington University in St. Louis.

Silver Spring, MD


Copyright 2016, American College of Chest Physicians. All Rights Reserved.


Chest. 2017;151(3):721. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.08.1450
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Published online

    When the surgeon
    opens my chest
    to remove
    the ground glass nodule,
    he will find

    no coal dust,
    no tobacco,
    just a trace of grass.

    Some sadness and some guilt
    tied up in gossamer,
    a miniature Ruth Asawa sculpture,
    finely woven.

    I lie awake, exhaling.
    I hear the tumor’s whisper,
    a baby ready to come into the world.

    I wonder how it grew,
    no love child.

    A transparent oval gestated
    from small sins or bad karma,
    invisible on x rays,
    innocently curled up on my left lung.

    A tiny ghost escaping just in time,
    two days before Halloween,
    it will slip from the doctor’s hands
    in search of another crevice to haunt.

    Or float freely
    on the cool autumn breeze,
    unnoticed,
    among thousands of falling leaves.


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