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Pectoriloquy |

Board and Care FREE TO VIEW

Judith Terzi, MA
Author and Funding Information

Correspondence to: Judith Terzi, MA; e-mail: jbkt@earthlink.net


Editor's Note: The poet taught writing at California State University, Los Angeles for many years.—Michael Zack, MD, FCCP, Section Editor of Pectoriloquy

Editor's note for authors of submissions to Pectoriloquy: Poems should not exceed 350 words, should not have been previously published, and should be related to concerns of physicians and medicine. First submissions to the Pectoriloquy Section should be submitted via e-mail to poetrychest@aol.com. Authors of accepted poems will be asked to submit the final version to CHEST Manuscript Central.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/misc/reprints.shtml).


Chest. 2008;134(4):886. doi:10.1378/chest.08-0808
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I enter a board and care to visit a butterfly.
She naps after a lunch of brisket and kugel.
They serve chopped beets and cole slaw to themselves,
A pickled herring remembers Yerevan and Gyumri.
I sit down at their oval table; I hate herring.
Her ninety year old wings slump in a wheelchair.
Every morning they shower naked with her and other
Butterflies. The herring sticks out its salty tongue.
I watch them eat. They are somewhere else.
Her wings are fragile, dry, and spotted.
They are in ecstasy, in tall grasses near a spring.
The herring whispers singsong fragments.
They bathe, dry, change, dress, medicate and feed
Seven butterflies each day. Her head droops to the side.
The pickled herring speaks of children left behind,
Of rivers. I know they work for herring now.
They wait to see their children's crooked smiles,
To kiss their cheeks twice or maybe three times.
They smell their skin, their hair in dreams.
I watch her sleep. What ecstasies shape her dreams?
The pickled herring swims back into its jar.
It twists closed the presence of all past.
She opens her watery eyes and looks at me.
I know she has forgotten who I am.


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