Pectoriloquy |

The Radiologist FREE TO VIEW

Elizabeth B. Crowell
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: The author writes: “This poem was inspired by watching radiologists at work years ago and considering the way an x-ray is a kind of metaphor for the unseeable life of the body. I have an MFA from Columbia University and teach high school English in Lexington, Massachusetts.”

Editor’s note for authors of submissions to Pectoriloquy: Poems should not exceed 350 words, should not have been previously published, and should be related to concerns of physicians and medicine. First submissions 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 Manuscript Central .

Michael Zack, MD, FCCP

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;140(5):1383. doi:10.1378/chest.10-1518
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He sits in a dark room,
a light for a wall,
and stares beneath the flesh.
A stranger’s chest shines
botched lungs into his eyes.
His own life flashes,
ribs pinned, heart placed,
all that he has done as hard as bone.
He is tired of the parts,
toes, skulls, shell-shaped embryos,
masses, spines, traumatic breaks,
the excess that fills
a bone or cavern, light and metal
that create the angles
from which he has learned to see.
He wants light to rush through him,
a glimpse of just himself,
but he cannot measure without degrees.
Damage sometimes looks newer than it is.
The lines and swells on this x-ray
could be scars from an older injury.
He compares it with the next-to-last picture,
traces again the airless lungs,
the heart, the ribs like empty shelves,
the darkest lightest difference
inside someone else
and translates history onto what he sees.




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