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Pectoriloquy |

A New Type of Loss FREE TO VIEW

Hannah Song, BA
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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, “The first patient who passed away under my care as a third-year medical student was hospitalized for presumed pneumonia and unexpectedly underwent cardiac arrest in the middle of the night. He left a permanent imprint on me. I am a fourth year medical student in Boston.”

Boston, MA


Copyright 2017, American College of Chest Physicians. All Rights Reserved.


Chest. 2017;151(5):1176. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.12.018
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Published online

    I rest my hand on
    brown grooves
    painted by the rays of sunlight
    upon your own

    I assure you that we will
    scroll sideways and up and down through
    the silvery shades of your chest,
    divine the reason why you are
    walking less and less and
    breathing as though you no longer trust
    the strength of your broad weathered shoulders

    The next morning flecks of golden dawn
    dance and climb through
    half-shut hospital doors and
    yellowed windows

    Your chart is gone,
    no heart rates and blood pressures
    scribbled across perfect boxes
    that help us believe that we
    mold the contours of
    the day, the night

    They tell me
    your lungs were filled with
    cells so deadly
    they had lost their identity, and
    your heart stopped
    beating its mythical beat

    The memory of you,
    the first patient I (dare I say) loved
    and lost
    rests in a space that I have created
    for only you,
    and someone like you,
    a face, a slight gesture
    is revisited in the quiet
    by every healer
    who was disarmed
    by their first encounter with
    a new type of loss.


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