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Poetry and Medicine
April 20, 2005

Echocardiogram

JAMA. 2005;293(15):1834. doi:10.1001/jama.293.15.1834

My heart is a herd of horses
streaming toward the finish line,
hooves smacking against the track.
My heart is ill, swollen in its chambers
where once the virus came and made me believe
in Kierkegaard’s Either/Or.
Scaffolding on the cot where I listen
to the dark blood that will not clot running
smoothly through aorta and artery. My pulse
runs amok. One hundred beats
per minute the shy technician says as he replaces
that part of the bed that let my left breast drop,
apologizes for what he will do next—
locate my heart between slots of rib.
Smooth as jelly the minutes pass. I listen to these horses
grown more fantastic with each jolt of the whip
from the small jockey who has lost so much weight
only denial will keep her here.

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