hagiography

the autogeography of a no/body
Nov 9

Open heart surgery

I saw a log cabin in Brighton, Vermont, eleven acres, right out in the middle of nowhere, and I thought of you, because that’s where you want to be, right out in the middle of nowhere. You can’t stand people and the way they intervene in your life. In former times you’d have been a monk. I guess it’s no accident that one of your favourite books is ‘The Vatican Cellars’.

And I’m wondering why I haven’t got a rum and coke in my hand and why Thelonious Monk isn’t on the turntable, then I remember, I hate jazz and I don’t drink rum, even if it sounds sexy, Cuba Libre, but Castro and Guevara had to catch a cab to Havana, gaps in planning; they came ashore forgetting it’s not just about landing, more what you do after, how you get to the place you need to be.

Whiskey, yeah, we could go to a bar and drink whiskey, straight up, no ice, and afterwards I’d steal the shot glasses, put one in each coat pocket, and we’d walk home, weaving a path somewhere between your place and mine, a hundred thousand mile walk, not running out of conversation, because it’s rare that we do, except when we say something we shouldn’t, at which point we simply run out.

But there’s this thing I’ve been meaning to tell you; I elected to have open heart surgery, to replace my old heart with a complex device, made of titanium, the usual four chambers: two on the left, which fill up with grey blood, sending it out to the lungs, and then two on the right, receiving red blood back, before pumping it round my body. Sixteen hours battery life, my waking day, it’s meant to recharge when I sleep. But there’s the problem, I don’t sleep.

There are wires coming out of my chest, earth, live and neutral. Where my skin meets the copper, there are already signs of infection. It feels sore. It hurts. And I don’t know what to do. Without sufficient charge my new heart won’t work, but I can’t plug it into the mains, because all that electricity, well, it burns, right across my chest, scalds my skin off, leaving my bones on show.

I never knew I was this skeletal.

I didn’t understand that the functionality of survivability was so brutal.

And I can still hear you, talking to me about brains and accidental evolution. I was mistaken to think the heart, with its simple pump mechanism, could provide anything other than a tic-toc flow. If I wanted precision I should’ve bought an expensive watch.

So, here’s the thing I’ve been meaning to ask you, can I have my old heart back? The one you keep in your pocket? I know you’ve still got it, wrapped up in black tissue paper, because sometimes I see you unwrap it, when you think I’m not looking, while I’m half hitching empty shot glasses and you’re tut-tutting at my ridiculous thievery. Can you put it back in me and then can we steal away, to that log cabin, in Brighton, Vermont? We could go by boat and catch a cab from the dockside. I finally think I know where I’m heading. One day I might even learn to like jazz.

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