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Pectoriloquy |

THE ICU WAIT FREE TO VIEW

Bibhu Padhi
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note:The author writes, “The poem was written after my wife and I waited outside the ICU at the SCB Medical College and Hospital, where my father-in-law spent several months for treatment of cancer. During that time we witnessed several deaths.”

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 topoetrychest@aol.com. Authors of accepted poems will be asked to submit the final version to CHEST Manuscript Central.

—Michael Zack, MD, FCCP

Bhubaneswar, India


Copyright 2016, American College of Chest Physicians. All Rights Reserved.


Chest. 2016;150(1):249. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.02.669
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Published online

    The breath staggers in and out.
    Comprehend the fingers closing in

    in an effort to counter our
    embarrassment of waiting,

    accepting the long pauses
    in their natural order.

    Again, listen. The water shows
    very little sign of being disturbed;

    only a thin layer of unevenness
    plays harmlessly above its still surface

    in modest circles, disappearing into
    the bottle’s resting air.

    The birds whisper into his ears
    stories of angels in disguise,

    of withdrawal and return,
    their small wings flapping

    in supportive play, their beaks
    beaks stroking his young dark hair.

    Leave the old to their own fate and long life:
    they shall understand the clarity of things

    in their own slow way, in due time:
    they’ve lived exiled in the best of times.

    They will leave the rooms, crying.
    We know. Let them cry, like children,

    for earth’s quickly vanishing
    forms, the budded lives.

    That’s how it ends. Yes, and then begins.
    my

    and goes even now, without effort.
    Only, less visibly than that of the old man

    who left his young son because he didn’t know
    how to take care of his last, loud breaths.


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