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Pectoriloquy |

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Teri Youmans Grimm, MFA
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Correspondence to: Teri Youmans Grimm, Jacksonville, FL 32225; e-mail: terigrimm@att.net


Editor's Note: The poet teaches creative writing in the MFA program at the University of Nebraska. Her father died of a pseudomonas lung infection. She remembers: “My father's pulmonary doctors and their staff were wonderful to my parents through the years. We still keep in touch with one of the nurses, who was happy to hear my poem would be published in CHEST.”

—Michael Zack, MD, FCCP

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


© 2009 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2009;136(1):318. doi:10.1378/chest.09-0123
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Your lungs were little life rafts
that couldn't inflate. Set adrift
you floated from blue room, to blue
room, tethered to a tank. In that terminal
ocean your face took on submersion's ghostly
pallor. Worrying how long you could stay down,
Daddy, I prayed you dead. I'm a sorry daughter
for doing it. And I do not want you gone anymore.
In death I know you better and mistook your absence
for a relief I've yet to reckon. As a child, I believed
the body shut down at night, heart, blood, lungs,
all stopped moving–a body at rest
should rest, I reasoned. Learning the truth, I couldn't trust
my own heart. Mama, sentry of my breath, watched me fall
into uneasy slumber. Even now in darkness I gasp
for air like one deprived. Though pointless,
I pray better for you now, but harder for my disobedient heart.
Have mercy. Have mercy. Have mercy. Have mercy.
Beyond my small window the ocean extends
to the ends of the earth. Have mercy, I just can't see it end.


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