Pectoriloquy |

Autumn Game FREE TO VIEW

Scott Kirkland Heysell, MD, MPH
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Editor’s Note: The poet writes, “The poem was written in remembrance of my grandfather’s dying days before commonplace discussion of ‘death with dignity.’ He chose a life of independence, fiercely so, and including the manner of his death. I am an Assistant Professor in Infectious Diseases and International Health with research focused on the diagnosis and treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis.”

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.

Chest. 2013;143(6):1830. doi:10.1378/chest.12-2001
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Oblong rocks skipped creekside,
Late Jonagolds, a bagful.
My morning sport.
He smiled, my grandfather,
Withered though he was
In gentleman’s bedclothes,
Whispered voice, the crab crawling from his lungs.
Black oaks showered acorns,
Pelleted the rooftop
In time with the season.
I, shameful to have drawn contrast
To his invalid’s prison.
I thought his smile hid acceptance of my naivety,
His own cemented decrepitude.
Weeks after his witnessed fall,
Infantile in pose,
Thus unspeakable,
He called us all to that final hour,
To recite our day’s abundance.
A young doctor, minted now
In the façade of maturity,
I am given key to this small family treasure.
Morpheus dreams,
Dram measured, stashed bedside,
Enough for the job.
Now I recognize that smile
Not of fateful acceptance,
But crooked and wry.
As when as he always did,
He beat me at checkers.
Double jump,




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