Kintsugi: “to join with gold,” the Japanese practice in which broken or damaged pottery
is reassembled and glued back together with gold-powdered lacquer
When they opened your chest,
when a masked surgeon held your stilled heart,
as the team peered into the cavity of you,
could they see the cracks in that huge organ?
And when they cut it open,
how evident were the broken parts?
The aortic valve with its malformed flap,
the final doorway to the body’s main artery,
and the wimpy mitral valve failing to admit
enough oxygen-rich blood into the left ventricle?
In my dreams, when you come,
I ask you, and you peel back the curtain
of your chest to reveal the cage of ribs
sheltering your great heart,
and there it is, loud as tympani,
throbbing strong and sure, trembling with
each downbeat. And as I peer closely,
I see the trail of lacquered gold scars
descending, circling, criss-crossing,
a portrait of your heartbreak, your pain,
the golden joinery making your
broken heart beautiful,
the abiding music of lub-dub, lub dub
(the lub of your mitral valve closing,
the dub of your aortic valve closing),
your expanding and contracting heart doing its job,
echoing your immortal smile.
(for Clifford Polland on the 34th anniversary
of the installation of his artificial aortic valve)