I was twenty-six the first time I held
a human heart in my hand.
It was sixty-four and heavier than I expected,
its chambers slack;
and I was stupidly surprised
at how cold it was.
It was the middle of the third week
before I could look at her face,
before I could spend more than an hour
learning the secrets of cirrhosis,
the dark truth of diabetes, the black lungs
of the Marlboro woman, the exquisite
painful shape of kidney stones,
without eating an entire box of Altoids
to smother the smell of formaldehyde.
After seeing her face, I ...