Wednesday, February 22, 2006

things of the heart

The heart is the hardest muscle to burn.

Both my mother and sister have heart murmurs. My mother's was diagnosed years ago; my sister's, just last year. Because of this, they take antibiotics before going to the dentist to prevent some kind of reaction. Because of this, my mother sometimes asks me, does your heart feel okay? although I'm not sure I would be able to feel it.

My first love was also diagnosed with a heart murmur, when we were together. He was told to cut back on the coffee, which he loved and drank at all hours of the day, in the morning and at night, eight or more cups. Last I heard, he was still drinking it.

My grandmother's heart attack was averted when, in the hospital parking lot, visiting a relative recovering from cancer surgery, she collapsed and was brought back inside and examined, and they found the little pathways blocked, and they opened them.

My grandfather doesn't eat salt.

My grandmother died of a blood disease, which has nothing to do with love.

That's all I know of family history.

I am sensitive to alcohol and coffee. One small cup of either will make me tremble. I only drink coffee on weekends and when I am traveling. I love the accoutrement, the ritual, the cream and the sugar, the spoon, the stirring. I bought a small silver teacup, and a butter yellow cup, and a few pounds of red tea and caramel crème and chamomile and verbena, and am trying to start a new ritual.

Sometimes I am seized with a pain in my chest, but I think it's the muscle. I lift many books. It's on the left.

The heart is in the center. We forget this.

Once, on the hospital television show, they dropped a heart during a transplant, and I think it bounced. I think I remember bouncing. It was very slippery and taut.

You can love more than once.

My heart has been broken three times. This last time was the worst.

My sister was a science whiz, and took anatomy at the local college. They brought in a cadaver, and let her feel the brain, and let her squeeze the heart, and she did. I remember the frog, as far as I got. The frog's heart was very dry, the color of a kidney bean.

My heart has been broken three times. The first time was the worst.

It's always the worst.

Joan of Arc's heart never burned.

You don't get better. It doesn't get easy. You just get determined. It's like writing. There is no way anything can stop me: twenty years of rejection letters, ten years of heartbreak--it doesn't really matter. Twenty years is as big and as awful as one year. It doesn't matter. We have not been felled. We are still beating