Pectoriloquy |


Parthenia Marie Hicks
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: The poet writes, “I’ve had asthma all of my life. Three years ago I developed ABPA and simultaneously began the journey of unraveling a personal relationship. In my poem, allergens, as unseen forces that can derail a life, become the metaphor for the grief that comes from both deep loss and serious illness.” The poet lives in Los Gatos, California, and is a freelance writer with a Masters of Divinity in Kriya Yoga.

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

Chest. 2014;145(5):1170. doi:10.1378/chest.13-2091
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When you told me, my head filled up with waves of fluid,
I became allergic to the world, all the dormant
allergens kicking in, my left eye watering for
six days, stopping on the unconscious Sabbath, kindling
memory of my anorectic thirties when my
menstrual blood came down on Good Friday, then disappeared
Easter Sunday and all weekend I secretly checked
my palms and the soles of my feet wondering if they
too would bleed and who could I tell?
Our bedroom became my body’s enemy camp,
nesting mites the foreign troops, unseen things, hidden molds,
fusarium, alternaria, congregations
growing, eating my skin and excreting, relentless
like the cockroaches that walked unscathed through blue fire
under the teakettle in my Alexander Park
childhood home. Boudoir weaponry metamorphosed to
dust, textiles, dander, histamines that left me floating
breathlessly as you used to.




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