Sally Read

Hearing the Heart

The light of the ultrasound room
is a train station at night: incisive
neon, cold shafts of grey-green,
the sense of a stopping place
in the face of a larger shifting,
like a country station with its two
tracks funnelling all the chilled air
of the Fens, and without warning,
the peremptory heart is the slamming
of the non-stop train that won't wait
for boarding, its size beyond us,
our edges splayed by the force,
and each length slinging an agenda
to fuel the passing; each beat
a window, the systole a slim
prophecy of silence, cancelled
in less than a thought by diastole,
the piston's tight inevitability.
The body can't comprehend
limitlessness. Or how, in the night's
hollow, I know your rangy futures
unfurling independent of me,
This is how we stand, your parents:
bystanders, pressed a fraction
more featureless by the suddenly
displaced air, and, as the probe lifts
from my pelvis, there's a new listening
implanted in us-to what continues
to pass, elsewhere.


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