Pectoriloquy |

The History of My Heart FREE TO VIEW

Mimi Moriarty, MFA
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Editor’s Note: The author writes: “This poem was written after a dream I had about a heart removal operation. The doctor assured me, in this dream, that I would be OK because I had a phantom heart ready to take over. I am a poet living in a log home. I have an MFA in poetry from Goddard College.”

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).

© 2011 American College of Chest Physicians

Chest. 2011;139(5):1243. doi:10.1378/chest.10-0879
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A surgeon suggests he excise my heart.
He tells me this as I am sprawled on a gurney
in the elevator descending toward the OR.
This sounds like a desperate diagnosis
for my frosted-over heartache. He doesn’t
mention transplant, he mouths “removal.”
I wonder briefly about sanity and competence
but he appears so kindly, behind the green
mask he resembles my grandfather.
“Your phantom heart will take over when
we remove your diseased heart.” He explains
no further though I am shuddering.
My scrawled signature is still wet
on the release forms, yet I do not
remember any mention of phantoms.
I haven’t the heart (pardon the pun)
to dissuade him from his diagnosis.
After all, he knows the history of my heart,
its failure over and over to recognize
commitment, beauty, sincerity,
it’s failure to warn me of impending
heart-break - oh, the cracks and fissures
that line my heart, cause it to spurt
and leak, fizz and seep, a weeping plum.
I roll into the OR, begin to feel groggy,
concentrate, bring my eyes into focus
notice steady hands, a confident stance.
This seems like a common procedure, heart
removal, and the release of the phantom heart.
I feel it now as they crack open my chest,
relief that such a damaged organ can be replaced
with one I’ve been storing all along,
a transplant of my good intentions
and the echo of my mother’s caution.




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