Weekdays I wheeled the vial
across the hospital,
its fifty-pound lead drum
blowing through the atrium
where sky crashed in
on potted trees, and workmen
were walling up the old
ER entrance where I’d rolled
in my mother, deteriorating,
slumped. No more waiting
room delirium and panic
now. Watching the clock,
I had three minutes to get
the radioactive agent
to its subject, one of a set
of identical twins,
so his heart could betray
its damage. No time to see
that wall close up like the artery
that killed my mother, or the one
that would darken a section
of the vet’s heart muscle.
I took the tunnel
under Clifton Road, the decay drum
catching momentum
down the ramp as I cried out
to strangers, organ transplant,
coming through—some white lie
to clear the way,
not thinking of the beating bag
I’d dreamed of carrying
her heart in, or how being
alone with her dying
left me exposed,
as to a naked dose.
Lying on the scanner bed
in his room of lead,
some Don or Ron, Harry or Larry
was prepped for my delivery.
Not thinking how personal,
how molecular, upheaval
gets inside us. Riddling
the body, the body releasing
that which hurts
yet preserves us—what stress
damages the heart,
what we can measure of it.