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Pectoriloquy |

For Once I Am Able to Save Her FREE TO VIEW

Liz Dolan
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note:The author writes, “I wrote this poem in honor of my mother who lost 4 children and had an irascible husband. In spite of that, she was a kind and gentle person who died at 96.”

Rehoboth, DE


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


Chest. 2016;150(5):1159. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.06.043
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Published online

    I thought my mother blessed to be born
    and raised in a country without dentists
    until the year they yanked out all her teeth.
    Pearl headstones fell each week.

    Now her false teeth swim in a blue Aegean
    atop the porcelain sink; I remember
    her mouth stuffed with bloodied cotton,
    and wonder how she endured the rumbling
    subway home. For her torture, I blamed dwarfish
    Mrs. Hegel, the clinic’s Mengele,
    who cowed both dentists and patients,
    shooting orders at her gap-toothed son,
    her raven-haired go-fer,
    his shriveled arm dangling like a light pull.

    Twice a year I huddled inside those white-
    washed walls, eating ether, falling backwards,
    blinded by rays of a florescent sun.

    Now in my dream the light shines in Kilcoo
    where Mama falls backwards into the waters
    of the mountain stream spilling by her cottage.
    I dive, my arms cradled, breaking her fall
    the skin of her back as opaline as a baby moon.


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