Pectoriloquy |

Chemotherapy Room FREE TO VIEW

Elizabeth Bernays, PhD
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: The poet grew up in Australia and worked in England and many developing countries before becoming a professor at the University of California Berkeley and then Regents’ professor at the University of Arizona. “Several years ago, before my husband died of leukemia, I spent a lot of time with him during his chemotherapy. The poem, ‘Chemotherapy Room’ is a direct result of that.”

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

© 2011 American College of Chest Physicians

Chest. 2011;139(1):224. doi:10.1378/chest.10-0158
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Bulging plastic bags
The size of apples or grapefruit or melons
Hang high on stands while
Down the tubes attached to them
Gravity lets chemicals drip into old veins of mostly men
Obediently sitting in leather-covered armchairs
Mickey sits at her desk
Lab work for Rebecca and insurance forms
Results for Vladimir instructions for Chuck
Calling round town as her eyes sweep the room
Oh Cynthia yeh she’s gone into hospice
Bye now gotta go
Right Sam time to switch over
Ah here comes Reg nice to see you take a seat
Lets see if we can find that vein
OK antinausea first then antihistamine
After that the Rituxen finish with Cytoxan
Coming over in a second Mrs Diwan
Not so good eh let’s stop the drip then
My favorite patient lucky you got that port
Randy’s done I guess what color tape
Maybe pink to attract the girls
She works around the room
Heavily arthritic but always conversational
Her teenage son needs the car
A patient’s grandson broke his ankle
How to regain appetites or sleep better nights
Everyone knowing one thing about the others
All too well
Mickey mother of them all knows each one
Knows the chemicals dripping into each
Their curing properties and their side effects
Would know the chances of each
If she wanted
If she thought about it
If she were not so busy




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