Pectoriloquy |


William A. Carpenter
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: “I wrote Driving for Alzheimer’s for my father, who died of complications associated with the disease, to remember some of the child-like innocence he showed when I would take him for drives in the countryside.” The author is a poet and photographer.

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.

Michael Zack, MD, FCCP

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

© 2010 American College of Chest Physicians

Chest. 2010;137(4):999. doi:10.1378/chest.09-1755
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Every Thursday I take my father for a ride.
“I’m lovin’ it,” he says,
as we zoom down the interstate.
“I’ve never seen such a stretch of woods,” he says,
“mile after mile and not even a house.”
I resist telling him they don’t build houses
along limited-access highways.
The trees wave and slap high fives against the car
like well-wishers along a marathon route.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been
on this stretch of road before,” he says
though we’re only a few miles from home.
I imagine driving him nonstop
cross country, just to hear the child’s delight
in his eighty-seven-year-old voice.
The “oh my Gods” as we speed
through the flatlands of Kansas;
both of us hanging onto the immediate moment
of wind tunneling through wheat fields.
Or the “I’ve never, ever seen anything like this”
as we skirt the sculptured glory
of Monument Valley.
And what would he think of the flat,
dry deserts of western Texas,
or the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
I’m certain the Grand Canyon would be
the biggest ditch he “ever, ever” saw,
everything seen with a child’s eye,
with the same unbridled hedge against cynicism.
Perhaps I’ll get sponsors to pledge
so many cents per mile to finance the trip.
We could raise awareness of Alzheimer’s,
and he’d love the ride, at least until
he started missing the familiar world
he’s inhabited for the last fifty years,
pining for a night in his favorite easy chair,
covered in blankets to ward off the slightest summer breeze.
But it would be worth it, just to hear
him each day, repeating over and over,
“gee Bill, I’m really lovin’ this!”




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