an ascending thoracic
aortic aneurysm, right above
the root. First found seven years
ago. The size of a walnut. She could
not work. We painted her red walls white.
Easier to sell. Put her artwork in storage and moved
her to a farmhouse on a hill. Then the symptoms abated.
The aneurysm dormant as a winter bear. We thought we’d been
spared. In summer it’s the size of a ruby plum. The way fruit
can ripen. The doctors speak in a language unlike my
mother. Sharp and sterile. A gloved finger draws
a vertical line down the sternum to explain
an open-chest approach. Her heart,
her heart, the mother of my
whole red world.
ABOUT THE POET
Ruth Awad is a Lebanese-American poet, 2021 NEA Poetry Fellow, and the author
of Set to Music a Wildfire, winner of the 2016 Michael Waters Poetry Prize and the
2018 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. Alongside Rachel Mennies, she is the
co-editor of The Familiar Wild: On Dogs & Poetry. She is the recipient of a 2020
and 2016 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. Her work appears in
Poetry, Poem-a-Day, The Believer, The New Republic, Kenyon Review, Pleiades,
The Missouri Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.
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