“Our bodies are mysterious because they are alive.”
-Dr. Doris Taylor, Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Repair at the University of Minnesota
A “ghost heart,” she calls it.
Lifeless, suspended in a glass dome
The lab is full of them.
Time pings off the glass like a swarm of insects
at night—yet inside there is no night.
No rhythm. No sleep. No end.
She rinses the dead heart,
injects its rubbery walls with stem cells,
flips the old organs like houses.
In the lab they speak of hearts
as “dead” or “alive.” Meaning what? Is there such
thing as the life
of a heart, a heart-like life? If so, it’s possible that a dead one
wouldn’t even be a heart anymore. It wouldn’t be any kind of thing.
A “ghost” then, as she calls it,
if we can speak of the body and not just the spirit
When she filled the first heart
with living cells, it didn’t start beating
immediately. A tiny pacemaker was attached.
then Harald and Thomas called her from the lab.
A rosy flush
like dawn creeps into the flesh …
A stem cell
can divide indefinitely, and in this it resembles God.
It is necessary and sufficient for skin and bones and eyes and lungs,
teeth and hands and hair
But it is none of those things.
It’s might, maybe, perhaps, the incarnate what-if
of every organ, an idea in the flesh.
The lab fills with plums, ripening
in glass bells, the spell of death
slept off like a fairytale.
they hang like sleeping birds, like orchids,
like smoked meats,
cocoons, candied apples, like oysters yet to be plucked
from their shells.
They swell in imitation of a world
they don’t fully recall, waken to a future
we can barely imagine,
tiny beating hearts,
first fruit in the kingdom
of first fruit.
- 100: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97 & 98: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones