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Pectoriloquy |

In Ways We Never: for Margo, Aug. 22, 2011 FREE TO VIEW

David James, EdD
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Editor’s Note: The poet writes: “I wrote this poem after the shock of hearing of the quick death of a poet friend. As I get older, the inevitability of the end becomes the subject of more of my writing. I teach writing at Oakland Community College.”

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


Chest. 2013;144(2):708. doi:10.1378/chest.13-0068
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A friend of mine dies at sixty-eight, two weeks
after a diagnosis of cancer. That’s the way
I want to go—quickly, but with enough time
to say my goodbyes, to stare into the eyes
of those I love, to hold them against my cheek
and taste the salt from their tears,
have them taste mine.
Love won’t repair the wound, but it’s the prize
at the end, the answer in wet clay
that we shape into a loving and sincere
heart.         The dead stick to us
in ways we never imagined—a hawk in the sky,
a cup of steaming tea, a scene from one of Monet’s
paintings. Their bodies and faces, almost divine,
settle inside like a clear dust.
I love Borges’ idea that we don’t die until the last
person with a memory of us passes away.
My friend, you’re here, lodged in the cells of my mind.
My grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, they fly
like kites in my red sky, glowing like ash.


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