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Pectoriloquy |

The Violin Bridge FREE TO VIEW

Neal Dwyer
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: Neal Dwyer wrote “The Violin Bridge” while leading a poetry workshop in a detention center in Southern Maryland. He teaches English at the College of Southern Maryland.

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. 2015;147(3):865. doi:10.1378/chest.14-2072
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Published online

The Drug Rehab Counselor said, Draw a bridge!
The inmates started sketching. Grand bridges,
stone and concrete bridges, massive draw bridges
opening for ships heavy with goods.
Off to the left, one inmate’s face is inches
from his pad. He’s drawing the bridge
of the rented violin when he was ten; a bridge
that carried four strings; a slow sound, screechy sometimes,
sometimes deep and strong. From heaven, his mom said.
So he’d practice till heaven came over that bridge.
Heaven came best when he closed his eyes.
So he drew that bridge.
When the Drug Rehab Counselor said, Pencils down!
the inmates put their pencils down, turned their papers in.
Leafing through, she offered commendations all around.
Such detail, such realism! And you know, she said, we are
each of us responsible for building bridges just like these.
We are each of us connected in some way, after all.
But her voice dropped when she got to the violin bridge.
She frowned, shook her head. You’ll never learn
to follow directions, she said. He turned his face from hers
to the cinderblock wall. No difference. All he could do
was whisper, Nope.


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