The doctors in their white smocks hover
like priests over the hieroglyphic lines,
searching for some omen there.

Among those scratchings on graph paper–
a computer’s entrails, marks a bird’s foot
makes in the dirt, tea leaves, palm lines–

one long bony finger points out
a peak that jags too high, a valley that dips
past sea level, signifying

a glitch in the future,
a faultline in the landscape of my body,
a tiny abnormality in my heartbeat.

They hasten to tell me it’s nothing
dangerous for now, two chambers are somewhat
enlarged, probably genetic, family

history, karma, fate. Hell,
I could have told them that. For years
I’ve been stuffing one room with dreams,

like those vaults in Hollywood, where
thousands of old films are stored. The other chamber,
a rain-swollen reservoir,

is filled to bursting with…. No,
there’s no need to say. Nothing I can do
will change you, leaky pump,

soft throbber, song bird trapped
in the cage of my ribs, my one, my only constant
companion. All I can do is pray

that you’ll stay with me, that you’ll
keep the blood whistling in my ears, keep
beating out time, stay

with me, stay with me,
until I don’t need you anymore.

(kz 1994)

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