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Pectoriloquy |

Ghost Villa FREE TO VIEW

G.H. Mosson
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Editor’s Note:The author writes, “The poem began sometime in 2004 with the emotion of the last line and the doctor alone in his house. It took some years to write the story of what brought him to this retirement villa, how he felt, who still was alive in his family, and what he might do about it.” G. H. Mosson is the author of two books of poetry. He lives in Maryland with his family, practices law, and writes.

Baltimore County, MD


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


Chest. 2017;151(4):936-937. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.08.1466
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    I retired to the villa of our blueprinted dream
    on a roadless isle in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida’s coast just beyond
    sight, except on clearest days. Today, workmen have finished the stonewall
    that rims the four acres my surgeon’s hands have earned:
    grounds and pond I call my own—artifact in the making. As they walk off
    toward the ferry dock, I play Love Supreme, and its horn waking up
    fills the living room and investigates the sunset.
    Of sweetheart trinkets stored in a wooden drawer,
    and heirloom knick-knacks, I’m the sole map.
    Even the best island detective could not
    unpuzzle that the Mayan rug tacked-up
    above the beige sofa where I now lounge
    is the sole relic from our thirty-year’s marriage
    when I sold the house after Mara died.
    I think of the twin willows on our street, shading
    out the news with shadowy hues. I watch them
    in my mind again, like a controlled explosion
    glimpsed from a gin-and-tonic bunker,
    fortified with a nightcap of vermouth.

    Well, these ailments are routine. I walk at will
    in a wave-combed sun. I could’ve been sentenced
    to some planned community, wearing a provisional nametag.
    The nursing home is out there like a shark
    that has swallowed so many of my patients one by one.
    My jazz goes tum-tee-ta, tee-ta-tum,
    like Thelonious Monk taking a phrase lighter
    than dropped pennies across a piano to groan
    with veteran’s moans. I have been wandering
    the house again, talking
    to my reflection in the living room window.

    Enough … a postcard on the foyer’s writing desk,
    beneath the medieval monk paperweight
    from my son John—‘his knee is doing well’—
    beacons for a response in the room’s aglow bubble.
    (Well, how can I ditch this retiree’s crown,
    even if would sours to wasn’t in my hands?
    I used to tell patients: Confide to heal. Then
    maybe I should dash back home to slow dance
    in good old Clearwater to those hard-to-hear torch songs?)

    Especially on nights of soliloquies to glass,
    I need the sympathy of astronauts to fall asleep.


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