Today's poem is by Ron Egatz

Valve Job

The scalpel slides across his shaved chest
like a kitchen knife on top a quarter pound
of butter. I clamp back the folds, window
to a life. The breastbone gleams at me,
like a Thanksgiving bird's left over
from one of my mother's holiday meals;
my mother, who, above all in life,
wanted me in this business.

The osteotome makes quick work of splitting
Mr. Apgar's sternum, and there lies
the pericardium—translucent smoking-
jacket shrouding the heart—where our
goal reclines: a faulty aortic valve. It

doesn't look good, but we've been here
before: a lifetime of bacon, vodka,
tobacco and television. I don't judge,
just ask for the next tool necessary.
It's not our business why Mr. Apgar
did this to himself; a childhood
lacking love, the wrong wives (in serial),
and his own children's heartache. At fifty-
three, he's got more coming. We keep
working; slush the heart with ice
to cool things down; to buy us more time.

Copyright © 2010 Ron Egatz All rights reserved
from Beneath Stars Long Extinct
Red Hen Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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