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Measured Breaths FREE TO VIEW

Marty Lynn Silverthorne
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Editor’s Note: The author writes: “‘Measured Breaths’ was written after a visit to the urologist and watching an old man and son struggle through the maze of healthcare.”

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(6):1542. doi:10.1378/chest.10-1223
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Hobbling on a hand carved stick,
he pulled the green tank of half-breaths,
paused to strike a match to a non-filter.
He struggled into the waiting room;
his tired breaths barely could
catch up with him, swollen feet
stretched around bedroom slippers.
I watched him labor with life,
wishing for something easier,
something sweeter than death.
Wheezing filled the waiting room
drawing in urine-scented air, exhaling
cancer across a constellation of faces.
He struggled to say, Boy, keep up with time,
consumed with counting measured breaths.
Don’t let them keep me, boy. Make
sure they send me home, unsure
if his feet could carry him back to
the place he inhaled for the last time.




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