Till Death Do Us Part; Atrial Flutter
By: Gerry Hendershot
Till Death Do Us Part
He stands at the ironing
board starching the collar
of a white shirt for church;
she sits and reads aloud Sunday’s
lectionary about Jesus cleansing
the Temple. He thinks of their fight
the night before last--they haven’t
spoken since; both had been almost dead
drunk, he on gin and she on wine.
You’re a worthless creature, she had hissed,
and he believed it, as she came at him,
manicured nails of both hands aimed at his eyes.
He pinned her arms at both sides to protect
her from hurting him, until she sobbed and
staggered off, then he passed out on the couch.
Anger, he thinks, like love, has evolutionary
value and biblical sanction, as he buttons
the shirt, knots his tie, and dons a navy blue jacket.
At the open front door, she stands silently before him,
looks him up and down, then slowly raises both hands
to adjust his jacket, straighten his tie, caress his cheek.
I never thought a lot about my heart:
it was dependable, I guess, never skipped
a beat, quickened with the passing
of a pretty girl, thumped with fear nearing
the podium—that de rigueur leap to my throat.
All textbook stuff, of none but momentary
interest; until I consulted Pete,
as I refer to him privately.
Dr. Peter Popolowski, cardiologist,
diagnosed atrial flutter, causing one chamber’s
poor performance: not cooperating with its mate
by pumping the expected volume of blood at the
precise moment it is needed, it sloppily squishes
an uncertain amount at random, confusing
its partner, and threatening other delicate
organs, including my vulnerable brain.
But my heart’s not in this poem.
And you’re probably bored to
death. What will warm your heart,
though, is the toddler in the art
museum atrium, wearing a plaid
skirt over purple tights,
pondering the rectangular
pond spread before her,
tentatively lifting one Mary Jane
and lowering it to the water,
delighted she can walk on it,
like Jesus, followed by splash,
clapping, laughing, heart fluttering
dove-like upward, as she cries Mommy,
Mommy! Look at me, look at me!
Gerry Hendershot is an 82 year old retired professor (health statistics) who began writing poetry seriously in 2014. His work has been published is local newsletters and shared in many workshops. His work often reflects a "tragic sense of life (Unamuno)." He lives in University Park, Maryland.