Bypass

Linzy Kirkpatrick, M1, Class of 2023

The iridescent glow of cellophane windows

wraps the building in a blanket of fuchsia and blue,

a playful dance of colors that shift

as I walk past. It’s the first

of many similar days to come.

The corridors whisk me through a

playful maze, a tenuous

barrier between the parents

who wait for news and those of us who

witness it.

A body (slight and new, and too

incomplete to be broken, his pale skin

assaulted with wires and tubes and

bathed in fluorescent lights which wash out his pink nakedness)

lay supine, a restless sleep and plastic drape

the only vestiges of comfort here. The room is cool,

bubbling with easy laughter

and light conversation

and switches flicked on,

machines primed and whirring

ready to sustain a surrogate circulatory loop,

a false life in an artificial dream. There is cutting–

a practiced routine, choreographed and perfected.

Blades of grace, whirling dervishes. There’s a saw,

and a lingering scent of cauterized tissue. There are

purse strings cinched tight. And then it’s revealed:

red and rhythmic, dancing in his chest, fluid.

The drum beat driving every undulation

within his filmy pericardium.

Bump white. Bump yellow.

The room is cold,

the child is cold. His heart is silent.

The movement is fast as his story is written

in the ice in his chest,

the bovine patch,

the sutures just so.

I feel an electric buzz and nothing can ground me.

And when we both wake from this dreamy bliss,

we are rewired,

rerouted around the fog of our shortcomings

and conscripted to the march of that mechanical pumping:

a lub dub of steps that metronomically marks our pace.

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