Pectoriloquy |

Riding Home to Austin from Houston after Folfox 6 Infusion FREE TO VIEW

Ann-Marie Madden Irwin, MFA
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: “I have familial adenomatous polyposis. I went to a workshop in May 2009 while undergoing adjuvant chemo for stage 2b rectal cancer, I heard a poem about cancer and thought, ‘that’s how I’d have expressed cancer before HAVING cancer.’” Among the poet’s awards are the American Academy of Poetry Prize, and grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the New England Artists Trust.

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(5):1244. doi:10.1378/chest.10-0781
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Light, euphoric, another chemo session
done, three to go, pump attached
Fluorouracil dripping over two days
Houston ablaze, a blue of city
lights like space ships landing
strip malls beckon like sirens
I roll into my husband’s voice
My feet are stones
my feet are wood
this cannot be real
look stars now and the cattle
I awake on the far side of the suburbs
Columbia, gem of the prairie ocean
I-10 to 71 to stop to pee
the pump, weighted liquid
leashed to my arm, I’m hobbled
rapt and undone, my tongue
curls and uncurls all on its own,
fiddlehead to fern, in spring
you can eat the fiddleheads
but ferns are poison.
Now Smithville, now the Pines
the tongue flaccid
I’m a night bird – soundless in Bastrop
my hands fold, fingers drawn to the palm
my legs hollow, a lawn chair
being stretched open, that old
lawn chair with frail webbing
silent and useless. I cradle
my bag of curing potion.
– if I showered now, I’d melt.




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