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Pectoriloquy |

The Hospital FREE TO VIEW

Pamela S. Wynn, MA
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Editor’s Note: The author writes, “It is my experience that many in U. S. culture do not understand in any real sense how debilitating it can be to live in persistent pain day after day without relief. Further, many are uncomfortable when confronted by such a reality in a friend or family member, preferring instead a cheery or at least brave front by the one who must live with pain.” Pamela S. Wynn teaches writing and poetry at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.

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


Chest. 2014;145(6):1431. doi:10.1378/chest.13-2340
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Bed 1: empty. Bed 2: a woman
relieved by the emptiness.
She’s not innocent like the rounded
faces of children on cancer posters.
She takes pride in the portrait others paint
of her: sedulous, steadfast, stoic.
The empty visitor’s chair
maintains a heroic posture.
From the portable CD player, a violin
virtuoso plays Brahms’s Violin Sonata No. 3,
the dark key of D minor weighty and dramatic,
a mood of barely contained wildness.
Like a stiff wind, doctors enter and pierce the soft,
pulpy cushion around her spine.
The muscles of memory flex quickly,
assume a chronic childhood posture—
Nothing will make her cry.
The infusion drifts through her veins.
In Brahms’s embrace she sinks below the surface of the light.


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