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Pectoriloquy |

After the Second Surgery FREE TO VIEW

Jill Crammond Wickham, MA
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: “This poem was written during my father’s hospital stay for an aneurysm repair. He has never been the same since. I am a poet/artist/teacher in upstate New York, funding my writing habit by running a children’s art studio.”

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(4):963. doi:10.1378/chest.10-0750
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Published online

He pulls up his undershirt
to show my daughter the lengthy scar
leading south
from armpit across his belly.
See this road? Follow it
and take a left
and you’ll be in Pennsylvania.
My daughter shrieks.
Even at three she knows
her mother cannot find her way
home
from this Vermont hospital.
Every time we are alone
my father reads my face
reaches for language
tries to tell me
how he feels.
It is not the scar that pains him
    (anesthesia)
not the flesh highway
    (aorta)
built over internal repairs
    (aneurysm).
It is the lack of direction.
He gave me a map,
led me to the hospital.
Native son, he knew I did not
know how to get here from there.
Earlier, lost in Vermont
I let my daughter-body
drift from the car
across the white line.
   When it’s foggy or dark,
   keep your eyes on the white line,
   my father always said.
When it is time to go,
I read the map.
Spread it across
my lap.
Tiny towns connect
in one long scar:
Orwell.
   Brandon.
Middlebury.
There are no white lines
in the cloudless blue sky.
No green routes
in the rolling fields.
Even the cows confuse
their random black dots:
You are here.
It has been a long trip.
I turn the map.
I am not here.


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