Pectoriloquy |

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Ting Gou, AB
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Editor's Note:The author writes, “This poem is a tribute to the patients I’ve met as a medical student. In honor of their powerful stories, I’ve written a poem about the power of storytelling.”

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.

Michael Zack, MD, FCCP

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

Chest. 2014;146(6):1693. doi:10.1378/chest.14-1494
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Published online

Mid-July, 1970—
you ran away with him to D.C.
Even then, the rebellions were starting.
This time, it was your body,
lighting itself on fire
little by little, one bursa each month,
tearing down its own house.
Pain built an altar in your living room.
Your neck teething.
The bones in your hands picked apart
by the rat beaks of seagulls.
You’ve learned to dress your story
for various occasions.
You exaggerate and dilute with such ease.
Mostly, you dress it down,
the stiff clinic rooms, the acrid bathroom bleach
washing out. Anger drying
like a basket of damp shirts.
In this persistent snow, I think the attenuation
of a marriage.
Tonight, my neck is knotted
into a child’s fist
refusing to uncurl.
This is what little I know of pain:
it consumes,
it consumes.
Even now, when you’ve lived through
the burning, the worst of it,
you don’t drop crumbs for the way back.
You will not indulge the wild animals.
You have stepped into a different city.




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