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Pneumonia in Early Winter FREE TO VIEW

Nicholas Samaras, PhD
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Correspondence to: Nicholas Samaras, PhD; e-mail: saddlemaker@optonline.net

Editor's Note: The poet won the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. He's been published in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Times, New Republic, Kenyon Review, among others, and is from Patmos, Greece.

This poem was written on the occasion of his father's illness.

—Michael Zack, MD, FCCP

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/misc/reprints.shtml).

Chest. 2009;135(3):880. doi:10.1378/chest.08-1905
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Each evening, your virus settles you
deeper into the blue sheets, leaving
your wintry hair drenched and matted,
your broad chest like a wet canvas,
making you cough as consumptively
as this ill weather. My hands urge
the language of your body, trying to smooth
back its fluency as I prop you up, rub
your restless legs and bring you broth
that steams my glasses and trembles
against the bowl's rim. I'm not afraid
that your hair blotches the pillow
or that your foggy eyes view me dimly
and your voice, grown cavernous, calls for me
when I'm right here. I'm right here.
In wheezing sleep, your arms move,
agitated as fierce brushstrokes or this flurried winter
etching the window in frost-flecked pointillism.
Already, outside, frost has killed the garden
and snow is losing the driveway.
The trees are impressions in white. In lamplight,
by the bed, I read to you through the hours
from Van Gogh's letters, father: your boy
on fever's edge, shouting through your dreams.




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