teaching the heart

last night I taught the heart, a french
novel about a young man who dies
and a woman who lives and the many
people who have some part in making
his heart hers. today the title
writer earns me a chance to push
my way through the OR’s swinging doors
and witness what teaches me. a lifetime 
of accumulated scars upon a stranger’s body, 
a body stripped and stilled for one more 
surgery. surrounding her, other bodies 
clad in scrubs, their synchronized
motion as marvelous to me as any
miracle, as commonplace to them 
as every workday. am I akin
to them, peering with professional purpose 
into this stranger's body? or to her,
outsider among their expertise?

witness, I will learn afterward, meant knowledge,
understandingwisdom centuries
before it meant to watch. what wit-
ness can I conjure to convey the 
exhilarating, humbling wonder
as your heart opens to me,
and I take you into mine?   

LOIS LEVEEN is the author of the novels Juliet’s Nurse and The Secrets of Mary Bowser. Leveen's poetry has been published in literary journals and anthologies, and inscribed on a hospital wall. She has given presentations on the intersection of poetry and medicine at the American Cancer Society, the Health Humanities Consortium annual conferences, the Hippocrates Poetry & Medicine Symposium, the International Conference on Physician Health, and Stanford Medicine X.  Lois@humanitiesforhealth.org  https://www.facebook.com/loisleveen https://twitter.com/loisleveen