Sunday, February 10, 2008


During my shift this week, I saw a patient staring at the screen while he was having an echocardiogram. I've had a few myself, and have always found them fascinating; human insides fill me with wonder, as does medical imaging technology. I love looking at x-rays at the hospital; I think they're beautiful, quite apart from what alarming news they may have for a radiologist.

Anyway, here's a very rough draft of a poem sparked by my glimpse of that patient.

Supine in darkness,
he stares, transfixed.
That’s his heart on the screen,
his own. Its thumping gurgle echoes other songs:
the ocean sucked through sand, wind rattling leaves,
some stubborn, sticky creature caught
in quicksand, thrashing to break free.

He sees
the muscle throb:
expand, contract. Distractions fade:
the IV in his arm, the tugging leads
glued to his chest. Techs, doctors, nurses
grow invisible. The world becomes
this dear, insistent heart,
its promises:
I’ll stay with you forever, fierce
and proud, no lover half
as loyal. No spouse makes
a vow so literal:
in sickness and
in health, for only death
ends my devotion.

He weeps
in gratitude. Whatever happens now --
cath lab or stent or bypass, lasix, doom --
he’ll know himself adored.


  1. Susan, that's beautiful!

    What a true promise our life beat gives us from God our spark. You've done an exquisite job of tying it all together. This isn't rough at all, it's perfect just as it is.

    Peace! Hope! & Joy!

  2. beautiful. absolutely, positively.

  3. If I had written that, it would have been more than a draft.

  4. Truly lovely. Thanks


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