Bypass

When they cracked open your chest, parting
the flesh at the sternum and sawing

right through your ribs, we'd been married
only five weeks. I had not yet kissed

into memory those places they raided
to save your life. I could only wait

outside, in the public lobby
of private nightmares

while they pried you apart, stopped
your heart's beating, and iced you

down. For seven hours a machine
breathed for you, in and out. God,

seeing you naked in ICU minutes
after the surgery ... your torso swabbed

a hideous antiseptic yellow
around a raw black ladder of stitches

and dried blood. Still unconscious,
you did the death rattle on the gurney.

"His body is trying to warm itself up,"
they explained, to comfort me.

− from The Fortunate Islands

"Red Leaves" by Susan Kelly-DeWitt