Open Heart Surgery
By Mary Jo Bang
I watched while one man’s heart filled the hand
of another. I noticed the inviolate pulsing
envied the sheer tenacity.
We stood like a green sea at the edge of a field
of sterility. The surgeon misbehaved –
became a mad hatter, tossed a dart
at the nurse anesthetist, a dear miss.
It was my job to pour blood through a funnel
to absorb the arterial backlash, become version
of suicide. The paper sheets rustled
in the clear breeze. We all spoke sotto voce.
From the back row, someone sang,
If I give my heart to you.
And all the while, the ghost of Gertrude Stein
was whispering in my ear: Circle one.
You were made for something bitter, bitter, better.