“My heart, unaware…”

grandma theresa
a portrait of Grandmama painted by Arthur, age 2, assisted by his Dad, age 36

From a work-in-progress:

The fibular vein. Anterior tibial vein. Posterior tibial vein. The three become the popliteal vein at the knee; and then that vein enters the thigh, via a passageway called the adductor canal, as the femoral vein. These are the veins where the thrombosis formed, a clot poised like a temporary island, breaking free, travelling into my pulmonary system where it lodged as an embolism, threatening my heart.

My heart never knew it was threatened. My heart grew large with love that time, in anticipation of a third grandchild, surrounded by other family members, hearing their voices, sitting with them at the long table we’d eaten at for more than three decades. My heart, unaware, as I tried to catch my breath. It never knew it was threatened. It was filled with love, it was heavy with love.

And other minor veins drain into the femoral vein, like small creeks. The femoral vein graciously receives its tributaries as rivers receive theirs, the threads of mountain courses, of run-off, of bog-dark sweet creekwater, limestone, gritty, clear as mirror glass, dense with salmon, lively with mayflies and dragonflies catching fire, of rivulets, right-bank, left-bank, forked, streamlet, greater saphenous vein, which usually receives the external pudendal vein as well as the superficial epigastric vein, and the superficial circumflex iliac vein.

6 thoughts on ““My heart, unaware…””

  1. Another frightening brush with the fallibility of the body, Theresa. How inspiring that you turn these experiences into beautiful prose.

    1. I think I spent so much time trying to find a story — my doctor spoke too of trying to find a narrative to explain what was happening to me — that I found myself writing my way through in the language that made the most sense to me. (And I do feel quite strong and well, though there still are mysteries apparently.)

  2. So unusual for me to read these words in this imaginative rendering. I worked for 25 yrs in the vascular surgery department of a hospital where I heard these words every day. Popliteal, femoral, thrombosis… I’m so sorry you experienced this, deeply relieved that worse didn’t happen, and applaud the poet’s wisdom to heal with words. Brava, Theresa!

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