by Peter Gwin
IN MY HAND I’m holding a warm, beating heart. About the size
of a softball, it’s a luminous globe of scarlet, pink, and white tissue.
I can feel its chambers contracting and hear the whoosh of the
fluid it’s still pumping. It’s slimy and gives off a slightly pungent odor.
The organ is alive almost eight hours after I watched Paul Iaizzo remove
it from a sedated pig in a basement lab, connect it to tubes
simulating arteries and veins, and spark it back into rhythm
with an electric jolt, as a paramedic would shock a human
heart back to life. Although it’s outside the pig’s body,
the heart flexes and lurches on its own, driven by some unseen,
unexplained, primordial force. More than grotesque,
I find it hypnotic and beautiful.
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