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Pectoriloquy |

The Brunch: for D.B. FREE TO VIEW

Judith Terzi, MA
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note:The author writes, “The brunch described in this poem was the last meal the family enjoyed together. The cousin passed away a week later.”

Pasadena, CA


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


Chest. 2016;150(3):744. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.03.038
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Published online

    Your fingers stained with blood
    claw into parchment of skin.
    Bits of apple-turkey sausage cook

    in four circles of a Swiss Plett Pan.
    The chef breaks eggs onto
    sausage, we wait for them to gel.

    Four cousins wait for your liver
    to fail even more, to swell
    beyond deluge. The chef slides

    egg-sausage onto toasted English
    muffins, drips guacamole
    & mild mango salsa on top. How

    could your fade out be better,
    this closure of three-quarters
    of a century with a Plett Pan brunch?

    Forgive us, we forgot the pancake
    mix, but never the smoked
    salmon that you say in your still deep

    baritone is the best you've ever tasted.
    God knows, we've all eaten
    our share when we called it lox, when

    our parents were in the line of fire.
    I say it's like latte to grandma's
    children's coffee that she boiled

    in a white enamel pan in her brownstone
    in Baltimore. Our mothers:
    four siblings—two cancers, one dementia

    one old age—all four exiting in their
    nineties. We wait for hospice,
    for the dew of morphine. For the cancer

    to break open its shackles, to let you go
    tango closer to the moon,
    the quarter-moons of your cuticles

    obscured by blood & salsa as you raise
    egg-sausage to fragility. Your
    laugh raucous as ever. You retell

    the time your mother soaked her pedal
    pushers, socks & shoes with urine
    on a visit to a Turkish toilet in Paris—

    your mother too old to crouch. Your
    father, dumbstruck, as she resumed
    her quiche, though last time you said

    it was something else. Your eyes blue
    sateen while you make us listen
    to Mostel's “If I Were a Rich Man”

    on your iPhone. We wait for you,
    the second in our generation.
    I wipe mango blood off your fingers,

    kiss each one of them, linger, as in a sort
    of ritual adieu, a bonding around
    a campfire. We wait for the ultimate

    fragment to burn. Oh brunch of blood,
    oh Swiss pancake pan. Oh dear
    cousin who will dare to exit the circle.


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