Pectoriloquy |

Prose Poem for Dr. John FREE TO VIEW

Katherine R. Redeker, MA
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: The author writes: “A retired physician friend decided to go and practice in a third world country. I tried to capture the feeling of a doctor forced to perform without the technology upon which we are so dependent.” Kit Redeker is owner/editor of a literary publishing company. She lives near the Oregon wine country and raises prize winning Shetland sheepdogs.

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.

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

© 2012 American College of Chest Physicians

Chest. 2012;141(1):271. doi:10.1378/chest.110037
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It is 2009. Dr. Oren Thresher prepares
for surgery. It is an autumn morning, but
for some reason, it feels as if it might be
spring in this part of Virginia. As he scrubs,
Dr. Thresher feels he is not quite all there,
perhaps due to the dinner party last evening,
but he proceeds to do his task: chest surgery
on a young man. He is ably assisted by his
regular OR nurse, Candice, and friend,
Dr. Samuel Foote. Thresher picks up a
scalpel to begin. He stops. “Something
wrong?” asks Foote. “These instruments!”
Thresher exclaims. “They’re archaic!”
Bullet probes…a thin rod with a small
round nodule…an ebony handled
amputation saw inscribed with maker’s name:
Leach & Greene…crude scissors…Surgical
knives in a red velvet box labeled Charriere of
Paris. “Our ether supply is limited, please
move on, doctor.” Thresher blinks at Candice
to refocus. The antique scalpel shakes in his
hand, but he cuts. He knows it is hopeless:
all chest wounds are hopeless cases. It is the
1860’s, and no one truly knows how to treat
them. This young man is doomed, no matter
Thresher’s skill. “Time of death, 09:27,”
says Foote. Thresher jolts awake as his BMW
runs off the road and plunges into a shallow
ravine, hitting a tree and demolishing most
of its front end. In his office the following
morning, two Band Aids covering the small
gash above his left brow, Thresher finds a
brief note in spidery script: Adams, Jonah R.
D. April 13, 1865. Appomattox, Virginia.




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