A Ghost Heart Is A Real Thing

posted Feb 3, 2015

The ghost heart was created by scientists
whose soap solution

(more brine than froth and foam)
burst all the living cells

in a pig's heart and left behind
only the protein structure.

Decellularized, this heart becomes a trellis
where stem cells like little seeds grow in the dark

and flourish
into a heavy fruit we later harvest.

The scientists have successfully implanted
these hearts tissue-engineered

into rats and pigs. This is a kind of agriculture:
flora, fauna. The ghost heart is white

and luminous, semi-translucent
as a surgeon's glove. It glistens like a snail's

slick mapping or mother-of-pearl. What kind of structure
was I for you? Is there an echo

that resides inside to sometimes remind you
how I was once something nacreous, a temporary

necessity in the bioreactor
encircled by your ribs.

Kate Angus is a founding editor of Augury Books and the Creative Writing Advisor for The Mayapple Center for Arts and Humanities. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Indiana Review, Subtropics, Court Green, Verse Daily, Quarterly West, Best New Poets 2010 and Best New Poets 2014. She is the recipient of an A Room of Her Own Foundation "Orlando" prize, the Southeastern Review's Narrative Nonfiction prize and a Wildfjords artists residency in Westfjords, Iceland.

Angus’s poem “No Wonder” also appears in this issue.