I Didn’t Understand - Elliott Smith
it’s national poetry month and i feel like i ought to write a poem that i enjoy before this month is over, but writing has been so hard and tiresome lately.
i wrote a poem for kavya and gave it to her a week ago. i enjoyed writing it because i felt honestly as if it was really a unique poem in that i don’t think i could have given it to anyone else but her. i realized that i didn’t write it down anywhere else, so i think i actually forgot what i wrote exactly. i know most of it, but i don’t think i could recreate it exactly if i tried.
kavya told me that to love God is to love people. and i agree. but when my heart is with people, i don’t think it is at rest. and that is frightening to me because, especially as a doctor, i think that would mean my heart will be constantly unrestful.
maybe that should be my goal. i want to write a poem for each person i love this month. i can’t believe april is already half over. how did this happen? april used to be so cruel, and it can still be sometimes, but i don’t know.
i am deciding on med school now. i was planning on reapplying after retaking the mcat, but now i’m stuck. after talking to my advisor, he says just to take cu denver and go there and be happy and don’t go through all the stress of reapplying and restudying for the mcat. i still don’t know anymore. there are too many moving parts and i am not heavily influenced towards either option.
i’m tired. i’m happy but i am still emotionally exhausted.
Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give names to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.
As they become known to and accepted by us, our feelings and the honest exploration of them become sanctuaries and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas. They become a safe-house for that difference so necessary to change and the conceptualization of any meaningful action. Right now, I could name at least ten ideas I would have found intolerable or incomprehensible and frightening, except as they came after dreams and poems. This is not idle fantasy, but a disciplined attention to the true meaning of “it feels right to me.”
after Marina Wilson
Consider the hands
that write this letter.
Left palm pressed flat against paper,
as we have done before, over my heart,
in peace or reverence to the sea,
some beautiful thing
I saw once, felt once: snow falling
like rice flung from the giants’ wedding,
or strangest of strange birds. & consider, then,
the right hand, & how it is a fist,
within which a sharpened utensil,
similar to the way I’ve held a spade,
the horse’s reins, loping, the very fists
I’ve seen from roads through Limay & Estelí.
For years, I have come to sit this way:
one hand open, one hand closed,
like a farmer who puts down seeds & gathers up;
food will come from that farming.
Or, yes, it is like the way I’ve danced
with my left hand opened around a shoulder,
my right hand closed inside
of another hand. & how I pray,
I pray for this to be my way: sweet
work alluded to in the body’s position to its paper:
left hand, right hand
like an open eye, an eye closed:
one hand flat against the trapdoor,
the other hand knocking, knocking.
It was not in my nature to be an assertive person. I was used to looking to others for guidance, for influence, sometimes for the most basic cues of life. And yet writing stories is one of the most assertive things a person can do. Fiction is an act of willfulness, a deliberate effort to reconceive, to rearrange, to reconstitute nothing short of reality itself. Even among the most reluctant and doubtful of writers, this willfulness must emerge. Being a writer means taking the leap from listening to saying, “Listen to me.”
I’ve seen this photograph very frequently on tumblr and Facebook, always with the simple caption, “Ghost Heart”. What exactly is a ghost heart?
More than 3,200 people are on the waiting list for a heart transplant in the United States. Some won’t survive the wait. Last year, 340 died before a new heart was found.
The solution: Take a pig heart, soak it in an ingredient commonly found in shampoo and wash away the cells until you’re left with a protein scaffold that is to a heart what two-by-four framing is to a house.
Then inject that ghost heart, as it’s called, with hundreds of millions of blood or bone-marrow stem cells from a person who needs a heart transplant, place it in a bioreactor - a box with artificial lungs and tubes that pump oxygen and blood into it - and wait as the ghost heart begins to mature into a new, beating human heart.
Doris Taylor, director of regenerative medicine research at the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, has been working on this— first using rat hearts, then pig hearts and human hearts - for years.
The process is called decellularization and it is a tissue engineering technique designed to strip out the cells from a donor organ, leaving nothing but connective tissue that used to hold the cells in place.
This scaffold of connective tissue - called a “ghost organ” for its pale and almost translucent appearance - can then be reseeded with a patient’s own cells, with the goal of regenerating an organ that can be transplanted into the patient without fear of tissue rejection.
This ghost heart is ready to be injected with a transplant recipient’s stem cells so a new heart - one that won’t be rejected - can be grown.