Vanishing Lung Syndrome

Holub, Miroslav

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Oct-27-1999


Once in a while someone fights for breath. The crowd around him continues with its business, not realizing that inside the man there might be something drastic going on. There might be a sea monster growing, or a raven named Nevermore, or "a huge muteness of fairy tales," or "the wood-block baby that gobbles up everything." Medical tests show that the lung is vanishing and becoming "an abandoned room" in a queer world where "only surgeons / write poems." [34 lines]


The inside of a person is an intractable mystery. You may believe that medical tests can describe the lay of the land and identify the problem. After all, it's only a man fighting for his breath. But what happens when the lung simply vanishes? How can you explain that? Perhaps the surgeon has to lay down his knife and turn to poetry for an answer.


Translated by David Young and Dana Habrova.

Primary Source

Vanishing Lung Syndrome


Oberlin College Press

Place Published