Pectoriloquy |


Michael Schein
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Editor’s Note: The author writes: “The poem was inspired by my own ultrasound which I watched on the TV monitor—an eerie experience for anybody not inured to medical procedures.”

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(5):1248. doi:10.1378/chest.09-1671
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We never emerged from the sea.
Mother of life, we carry you in our belly.
I have seen the sub-dermal womb,
the post-amniotic flood
alien as the Mariana Trench,
intimate as ejaculate. Doom
swims with organs under skin.
There are ghosts in the body,
unseen shape-shifters tangled under ribs.
The dead never go far.
I have seen my spleen with its murky intent,
my delicate swollen liver,
dark matter drifting in
the night of my abdomen.
I have seen my lungs, the laborers,
rowing this battered life raft
through treacherous currents
and sucking pools,
my heart like a startled wren,
trembling again and again
at the manic call of the blood –
life, life, life, it cries,
but the ghosts
pull me into my brine,
into the umbilicus of death,
as I, like a pearl diver,
knife clenched in teeth,
test the limits of breath,
the sparkling anoxic visions,
the oyster of body wisdom,
the semaphore of flesh.




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