1,573 Readings | 3 Ratings

The Mother

I.
There seemed to be something wrong with him, his mother often said.
She recommended surgery, and could think of no-one better than herself
to perform it. After all, she was the woman, unselfish in her production of him.
She had done it just so he could exist.

II.
She was diligent, and never dropped the thing,
despite the sticky kissing noises made by its prodded ventricles.
An ordinary person would have been embarrassed, or at least, aroused,
by holding such a naked, slick, slurping thing,
but she saw nothing beautiful about her son’s heart. She was much more apt
to admire things when she did not understand how they were made.

III.
If the heart needed anything, she thought, it was a nice long massage.
But unlike a person, who can ooh and aah, a heart can only make squishing sounds,
like an expiring vegetable.
“Are you a tuber or a nightshade?” she asked.
“Whichever one least enjoys massages,” said the heart, who was ready to be left alone.
“Oh, but you look so lonely,” she said, sure she saw a glistening tear
in the corner of one of its forty potato eyes.

IV.
“Ventricles look like mouths, but they are not,” said the son, who was watching his mother preparing a bowl of soup for the heart, which now had its very own place at the table, though a booster seat was required.
“Nonsense!” said the mother, with a spoon in the butternut.
“I wish you would respect the validity of your mother’s choices,” said the father, from behind a yellowed newspaper.
“Father!” sobbed the exhausted son, who had forgotten there was another man in the house.

V.
“I don’t understand how I’m still alive,” bleated the very pale son, whose heart was out
being wheeled around in a baby stroller.
“Mmf,” said the father, whose mouth was full of raspberry preserves,
the seeds of which, prevented philosophy.
The son had lost the last of his blood days ago.
Outside, as his mother leaned into the strolled to tickle a plushy valve, his heart cooed from under its bonnet, betraying him.


Posted 07/09/09
Books by Hannah Gamble
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Thanks to the editors at Hayden's Ferry Review, who first published this poem.
07/09/09 12:15pm