Today's poem is by Stephanie Lenox

The Heart That Lies Outside the Body

Christopher Wall (USA), born on Aug. 19, 1975, is the
longest known survivor of the condition known as
ectopia cordis.... The mortality rate is high, with most
patients not living beyond 48 hours.
                              —Guinness World Records

I know people want to touch it,
like I'm some pregnant woman
or one of those cut-open cows
with a porthole in its side.

As soon as I could talk, I said
aorta, pulmonary artery, vena cava.
These words hold my life in place.

I learned how to have fun with it,
dress it up like a ventriloquist's dummy,
throw my voice into the fleshy lump.
I memorized "The Tell-Tale Heart"

and chased my cousins around the yard
shouting, "It grew quicker and quicker
and louder and louder every instant!"

I've had to explain myself so often,
ectopia cordis, ectopia cordis,
ectopia cordis, ectopia cordis,

that once I totally lost it and hit a man

for asking. And, of course, considering
my condition, he forgave me.

Now people don't bother to ask,
or if they do, I say it feels
just fine. In fact, I've lived
so long the doctors say I'll die

like everyone else. I have dreams
that it fills with air, floats away.
I don't know what that means.

Copyright © 2008 Stephanie Lenox All rights reserved
from The Heart That Lies Outside the Body
Slapering Hol Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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