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Pectoriloquy |

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Joseph Duemer
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Editor’s Note:The author writes, “I have recently retired from Clarkson University, where I was Professor of Literature. I wrote the following poem from recent personal experience, trying to capture the private thoughts of one patient faced with mortal illness.”

South Colton, NY


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


Chest. 2016;150(6):1405. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.07.046
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    They wheel you through
    an S-shaped labyrinth
    with photographs of flowers
    so close-up you can see
    individual grains of pollen.

    The technicians ask you
    what kind of music you like
    & find a Sirius channel
    to play through the
    big speakers in the ceiling.

    They help you up
    onto the long glass table
    mounted beneath what can
    only be described as a ray-gun.
    It’s going to shoot x-rays

    through your hip & spine.
    That’s where the malady
    has emerged to hurt you.
    They’re going to hit it with
    a million volts for five days

    running. They paste on little
    targets & they line you up.
    Some noise, the music swells,
    a whine. That’s all there is
    to it. The cells of hope divide

    & multiply. They wheel you
    Same
    time tomorrow
    wafts scents of flowers to you.
    You don’t know what to think.


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