The Excised Heart

By | 31 July 2012

Atlas of Anatomy,1956, in the drawing of the Sterno-costal Surface of the Heart and Great Vessels, in situ, the coronary arteries are red, the cardiac veins, blue. They traverse the heart’s surface, a glutinous grey, a velvet slug.

Blue’s turned again, at the traffic lights – stares straight ahead, fingers tap my leg. Rain drums hard on the hood, does Blue know where she’s going?

Observe this chamber’s entrance: this smooth funnel-shaped wall (infundibulum) below the pulmonary orifice; the rest of the ventricle, is rough with fleshy trabeculae.

Warm wind thick in the city, a large white open tissue blows into her face, a mask. Girl in bright red ballet slippers walks quickly ahead, steps light, a dancer.

A shocking impact first of all more than you could know like an M-80 going off in your shirt pocket it sent me reeling. Same time a feeling of being jack-hammered through my chest. Then, everything in slow motion

In the thick wind, everything became bogged-down – people moved as though through treacle, sticky-slow. Little Asian girl in a pale blue track-suit, hung onto her mother’s hand, in the other, she clutched a witch’s hat, its wiry yellow hair sprayed out in the wind.

Red’s right behind, face anxious above the wheel. She’s following, I say to Blue. Blue drives one-handed, with a casual air.

In the maelstrom, three people stop her and ask the way –
to the money exchange, Kent Street, to the platform of a certain train.

I feel you enter, pushing into the pericardial cul de sac. My heart contracts around your fingers. You tell me what you see: an intricate weaving, a bulbous branching.

In shape and size, the heart is a closed tight fist.

Blue pulls up beneath the bridge – I hear a car door slam. Red gets out, the gun looks huge in her small hand.

My heart’s removed, it’s opened, the thick muscle folded back, held in place by steel pins. I turn to Blue – you knew this would happen, didn’t you?

I’m lying on the floor in that room, thirty seconds post-impact. Every breath a knife turning in my lung. Then, I can no longer see

Red circles the car, swinging the gun every which-way. Raindrops stand out in her hair like jewels.

Red’s voice pierces. “Listen, I’ve got ten love letters for you – three for your feet, seven more for your belly, and spare clips, and I change them pretty quick. So get out!”

“Put that rod up,” growls Blue, “or I’ll bang it out of your fist.”

It was a darn miracle I did not die the doctor later said the bullet missed the vital part it almost ‘curved’ around my heart

There’s a forest within the heart’s chambers – the papillary muscles are the thick and shiny trunks of trees, branching into the chordae tendineae, a tender-looking fragile weaving.

Her eyes hated me. To hell with her, I thought.

The red shoes danced across the city’s map
twinkling in all the places I’d been

street corners, houses, bridges, doorways, bricks I’d run my fingers across,

Sirens wailed distantly; the sound murmured though the windows,
dingos howling out in the hills.

I sat in the car, not moving, wondering why Red hadn’t killed me. None of it made any sense. I watched the rain trickling down the windscreen.

I turned the key in the ignition.

The red shoes were the only things moving, stabbing out the dance in the grainy air.


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