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Pectoriloquy |

Academic Decathlon: for David, 1987—2005 FREE TO VIEW

Robin Scofield, MA
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note:The author writes, “I was moved to write this poem due to the death of a friend of my son. He was 18 years old when he died of Ewing sarcoma, which returned after his operation. I taught remedial reading and writing at the University of Texas at El Paso for many years. I enjoy hiking the rugged desert mountains with my Belgian Shepherd dog.”

El Paso, TX


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


Chest. 2017;151(4):938. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.09.010
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Published online

    David felt something like an artichoke
    twist in his belly. His parents received the grave
    news and flew him to New York, to the hospital
    where Dr. Ewing of Ewing’s sarcoma
    had practiced medicine. David got the tumor
    taken out, got chemo, got radiation, lost his hair,
    and practiced the guitar he kept at hand.
    Cut CDs of his band, The Fedoras.
    Felt time as the hiss of a lobster
    dropped in the pot, hot in his ear.

    Blonde ringlets sprang out
    in time for his senior year. He won
    a full scholarship, was voted Best Boy,
    and at graduation spoke of how
    we need inner strength for the future
    though he alone had no hope of renaissance,
    what the team had studied that year. In June,
    refused by one Battle of the Bands contest
    over some paperwork snafu, David said,
    Let’s find another. Let’s don’t waste time.

    The family knew in May, and most people guessed
    why he went to the hospital in September instead
    of his first year at St. Mary’s, but how to hint
    to my son whose only prayer was that David be well?
    A year after graduation, he trudged to the funeral, along
    with fellow members of the Academic Decathlon team.
    They stood in the desert sun and debated no issues,
    only the lives given and the one taken.
    They vowed to speak his name though he had
    graduated to another level, ahead of them all.


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