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Pectoriloquy |

Partial Birth FREE TO VIEW

Robin Scofield, MA
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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 to poetrychest@aol.com. Authors of accepted poems will be asked to submit the final version to CHEST Manuscript Central.

—Michael Zack, MD, FCCP

Editor’s Note:The author writes, “I wrote this poem for my sister who conceived a much-wanted baby late in life who had spina bifida, obvious from the ultrasound. The poem describes her experience at the office as she described it to me.”

El Paso, TX


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


Chest. 2017;151(4):939. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.09.011
Text Size: A A A
Published online

    My sister’s voice over the telephone pulse
    aches like a hairline fracture of the tibia.
    The sonogram tech said, Uh-oh, and left
    her holding her breath. Steel surfaces
    reflecting like funhouse mirrors in a horror
    flick, she had to gather her strength,
    for she could see what the doctor would
    point to—unlike the American traveler in Tibet
    who can make out neither number nor letter
    —no, here were signposts: the spine
    a curving road suddenly devastated
    by earthquake, misshapen legs to clubbed
    feet. Last week she had felt a luxurious stretch
    aswim inside her, a lovely desired creature;
    at forty, her first baby the size of a mouse.
    A dangerous light leaks out of the machine
    as she breathes deeply, not to sigh or scream
    but to understand the death of the almost
    beginning that begins ending in the start.
    And there is no help for it, only a slight pressure
    stills the course their lives might have followed.


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