Pectoriloquy |


Deena Linett
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: Deena Linett is Emerita Professor of English, Montclair State University. She has published two novels and two collections of poems.

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):1247. doi:10.1378/chest.09-1718
Text Size: A A A
Published online

She couldn’t possibly have married him
but she has learned the code he speaks
and sometimes she can speak it. His call
as from a distant continent, lurid sound
in early-morning dark: I’m 1-A
on the transplant list. Or A-1.
She tilts between now and a series of thens,
some fifty years old – his heartbeat
trembling the bones of her cheek - hotel rooms,
Gulf-coast beaches. On her way
to Quebec, the opposite direction, she waits
for her plane amid flurries of slang,
a high-school choral-group bound home.
If they spoke English she might be diverted
but these are periodic nouns abloom
in slushy sibilants. She drifts. Strands
of song like aural spiderweb cross airport space,
design of truth beyond what he could say,
the last loved man, who’s known her
broken, open. She resonates to his struck A
across the thousand miles. One day she heard
a group of EKGs transcribed as quarter-notes,
laid on staves and played: strong hearts sing
ornamented melodies, sick hearts lines
plain as early chants. All over the world
people are going places and he lies as if dead,
a man with a hole in his chest. Loved flesh.
She hears the rhythmic slosh of pumps
under engine-noise. Time zings and pools.
She imagines fever charts and what she knows
will happen does. She isn’t family. The nurses
will refuse to speak and he will not be able to.
She’s never been the other woman.
She’s been the one before, between, and after.
She comes to know to be beside oneself
and tells herself in the third person
She chose not to be with you so she can’t
be with you. Years go. For a time
they lived through days without each other,
sweetness a bright silent phosphorous
streaming through shallows of familiar seas,
soft breezes over tropic nights and terror.




Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).

Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Find Similar Articles
  • CHEST Journal
    Print ISSN: 0012-3692
    Online ISSN: 1931-3543