Pectoriloquy |


Kristin Joyce Roedell, JD
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: The author writes: “My father is a retired cardiac surgeon; my childhood was permeated with the culture of medicine. I am a wife, mother, and retired attorney living in Lakewood, Washington.”

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(2):470. doi:10.1378/chest.10-0440
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There were children
who rode elevators to marbled foyers,
where secretaries with
bouffant hair
put them in conference rooms
next to packets of Sweet and Low
and stale macaroons.
Others rode trucks
while Japanese maples wrapped in burlap
leaned against the cab in back,
or wrapped wieners on the waterfront
in mustard stained white aprons
sipping tart lemonade;
but my father was a cardiac surgeon
so I put on blue scrubs
and covered my hair and shoes
with a cotton blue shower cap
and bubbled booties.
In a room white as snow drift,
he said: this is my scrub nurse.
She washes my hands with
a brush and Phisohex,
she peels the gloves
over my chapped skin.
Silver clamps holding ribs apart,
he said: this is a broken heart;
He pulled up a thread
taut as a wand
and the wound pursed its
scarlet lips.
Monday at school I gave my report;
it was a great success–
but I dreamed of that patient’s
silent face, curtained
from his yawning wound.
He lay in spellbound trust,
as if a magician had only
to saw him in half.




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