Portrait of a Heart
The surgeon cuts through the tumour in one precise slash, and a yellow door spills out. I believe it is from our first home, complete with a brass knocker and name plaque pieced together with cowrie-shells.
The scrubs bend down as he points at something swathed in blood clots. ‘That’s just the tip of the cancer; it’s full of gangrenous memories,’ he says in that gruff voice all surgeons are gifted with—the one they use to announce the end of someone’s world.
‘If we go deeper,’ he continues prodding my insides with the rounded end of a cold metal tong, ‘Yes there, the peeling plaster of relationships. Do you smell the acrid scent of regrets? Look there, beyond that bleeding artery is the grave of his first dog, a cigarette butt, a plastic whistle, a torn kite, a half-eaten orange candy, a koel’s song.’
From my ether-drenched haze, I watch him chip away the cancer, one rotten growth after another, till he reaches the red dress you wore on our first date.
winged ants . . .
when did I first wish
a life without you.