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Brenda Butka, MD
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Editor’s Note: The author writes, “This was written years ago during my residency, and describes a young woman with a thymoma and Cushing’s syndrome who died of pneumocystis pneumonia. I live with my husband on an organic farm on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, where I practice pulmonary medicine.”

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

Chest. 2015;148(1):294. doi:10.1378/chest.14-2887
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Published online

Mr. Jones stands outside the glass, looks in
at his foreign wife. Alien,
her only language numbers, her only song
variations on an oscilloscope. The audience
recognizes wild new rhythms:
she is pushing back frontiers, she
marches forward.
In this cool light,
eight floors above the parking lot,
she transforms.
A bag of bone and water,
flesh becomes irrelevant, she becomes
what she was not.
A silent grotesque, she sings her song.
The room sighs, is more alive than this centerpiece.
Her chest rises and falls in time with machines.
As the sun warms an aqua morning sky,
a hidden crescendo.
Mr. Jones tells Mrs. Jones good-bye.




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