The Experimental Heart
by Richard Edwards


The women in love with a new heart
didn't care that it was experimental
or artificial. She was proud to love
it's dull clicking under the strange
man's chest. She took his blood pressure
and temperature, and when
none of the other nurses were watching
she put away her stethoscope
and pressed her ear against the bandages.

It's dangerous to be in love
with a new heart,
and when she and the doctors
had to shock it again to get it beating
properly, she thought, "Sometimes it misses,
and doesn't beat the way it should,
but it will be okay."

Through the late hours, she
sat beside the bed, ready to push
the code button,
and kept her fingers on the man's wrist
not always feeling that it was right
inside.

In the morning it stopped,
for a minute before she realized
what was happening, and fumbled
with the button and cried.

She worked on the heart
for hours, and pumped its pressures
up, adjusted the ventilator
to breathe with force and rhythm.

The women in love with the new heart
could believe, "It wouldn't be long,"
as the doctors had told her.

With her real heart full of memories
she couldn't understand
the artificial heart, just hours old.
Even if it were brought up to pace
and made it out the door

of the hospital, it would never
stay up all night worrying and listening.

It would never be strong enough
for that, even if it never felt the pain.






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