[A bacterial vegetation anchored]

from Hospital Pamphlet
Paul Hlava Ceballos

A bacterial vegetation anchored
to the ventricular assist device’s
inflow cannula sways
there is no border
between the world
and what grows in us

what sound enters her heart returns
displayed as gradients of lit pixels, I point
at the infection on the screen

maybe she will receive the donor heart
from Thursday’s head trauma victim
maybe not

she is native, symbols I am foreign to
tattooed on her forearm
she nodded when I entered the room
if this blue bowl is chipped
was it always a chipped bowl
inside a whole one

full of soggy cereal, it indicates
she has no appetite
I push it aside
to make room for my electrodes

the donor is dead but her heart pumps
on a file on my desktop computer
the more intense the echo
the brighter the dot on the screen

is it a vegetation or blood clot
her labs affirm she is MRSA positive
I sweat in plastic gown and face shield
adjusting a blood pressure cuff

the worst part is that I can’t see
my son, whose funeral
will be online tonight, she says
I can’t really see him

a native man is dead
a young native man
who could not be older than me

how often must a sign repeat
to infer pathology
of drug abuse is negative
she had root canals
through which bacteria can enter
will the woman with a child exist within
the woman without a child
now manifest
as long as her blood moves on my screen

may the dead woman’s heart be harvested
may this woman live, may her son
long live, Thursday inside today
an echo is the motion
a body makes, what comes back altered
comes back
I have no spells, no power but to ask

Originally published in Moss: Volume Five.
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