Pectoriloquy |

Three Weeks FREE TO VIEW

Steve Shilling
Author and Funding Information

Correspondence to: Steve Shilling, McGuffey High School, English, 113 Ammons Dr, McMurray, PA 15317; e-mail: shills26@comcast.net

Editor's Note: Steve Shilling has been teaching high school English for 12 years in Southwestern Pennsylvania. He wrote “Three Weeks” after a three-week hospital stay due to complications of gall bladder surgery. He writes: “I never thought that I would share it with anyone, but am glad it is here to let doctors and nurses know what we patients are often thinking.”

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).

Editor's note for authors of submissions to Pectoriloquy: Poems should not exceed 350 words, should not have been previously published, and should relate to concerns of physicians, patients, or medicine. First submission to the Pectoriloquy Section should be submitted via e-mail to poetrychest@aol.com. Authors of accepted poems will be asked to submit the final version to CHEST ScholarOne Manuscripts.

© 2009 American College of Chest Physicians

Chest. 2009;136(4):1178. doi:10.1378/chest.09-0278
Text Size: A A A
Published online

It's hard really,
to look out of
the same window every day,
for eighteen days,
so you know the curve
of every crooked branch
of the tree that obstructs
your view of the street corner.
You can only feel
the coldness of the sun
on a 96 degree day
by pushing your hand up
to the half-inch pane of glass,
time ticking its cadence
as the medicine drips
into your arm.
Nothing bleaker than
the 20 minutes after 3 a.m.
when your life creeps
into your head,
you ponder death,
and who would show up
to your funeral.
Another day breaks
without food or sleep,
and your old football coach
is in the back of your head
saying, It's not too late
to make a change.
You didn't quit on that
cold October Thursday
afternoon either. You think
of the Alps, it's July of 1999,
raining, cold, but not the worst
day for an American cyclist
who's dancing on the pedals
up the Sestriere, demoralizing
his opponents like he did cancer.
No quit, only fight. Why don't you?
The next morning you rise out of bed
and make your walk. One lap
becomes two, two weeks becomes
three. You grit your teeth
as the pain inside grinds you down.
And you stand up every hour,
walk another lap, dragging your
feet along the tiled floor, again,
again, again, smiling to hide
your uncertainty of when you'll
smell your daughter's hair again,
feel your son's arms around you again,
tell your wife that today feels the same
as the first day you met.




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