Pectoriloquy |

Planetary Biology at Beaumont Hospital FREE TO VIEW

Diane Shipley DeCillis, BA
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Editor’s Note: The author states: “The poem was written in response to having had a blood infection. I was on IV antibiotics for 6 weeks. I began to think about how our bodies are vulnerable to “foreign invaders.” My once very adventurous palate has been tamed by these experiences.”

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).

© 2010 American College of Chest Physicians

Chest. 2010;138(3):751. doi:10.1378/chest.09-2443
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They drove the tulips out of me—the needles,
taps, surgeries—and tests like transesophageal
echocardiograms with scopes the size of satellites
that must be swallowed.
            Somewhere in the mitral, aortic,
pulmonary valves, the doctors look for vegetation—
life on Mars. If our organs had planetary names,
the heart would have to be Mars. And the vegetation:
alpha hemolytic streptococcal, bacterial endocarditis,
septicemia, microbes that bloom pretty as loosestrife—
the Eurasian perennial that chokes out native flowers,
same way exotic trees planted in foreign soil drink
the river dry.
      Seems I have a flair for the extraterrestrial,
have invited alien cells to party hearty on this host before:
good old entamoeba histolytica, dysentery contracted
on a trip to Algeria. And later, an exotic yogurt drink imported
the Hell’s Angels of bacteria to mess with microflora
in my colon—drove the nerdy good guys out.
                  And though
I no longer drink the tap water in Acapulco or eat hotdogs
from street vendor carts, these bacterial blossoms sense
my immune system has a weakness for the bad guys—
all spiffed up in loosestrife purple, and tulip-red—
ready to dance on a glass-slide stage beneath a waning
moon—the luminous convex lens of a microscope.




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