Jessica Taylor
Jessica Taylor

Writer | Empowered Lyrical Erotic Romance | Literary Fiction



December 2014

Red Ribbon, Blue String

Written by , Posted in Poetry

Winner of the 2014 Texas Health Resources Literature and Medicine Poetry Prize

At the end of spring, I am pulled like a long pink, resistant worm
from a cool, dark tunnel. Transplanted from gun-shy, tree-lined California
into the humid desert of Texas, I feel like a red headed turkey vulture
clumsily lumbering in a crowd of ornery, sugar mad grackles.

It is so hot, I am forced to ride my chestnut mare before the sun
has had enough time to inflame the water particles hanging about so merrily
in the air. In silence, I ride the horse early. I wander about the freezing new hospital
in which I find myself day in and day out. I ride the horse. I wander more,
lost and perplexed between the corridors of OB/GYN and radiology. I ride again.
And I wonder about the rest of my life.

I think I must be hoping for a friend, because I meet you in summer over a
gaping open chest, looking down at a heart stuffed with red ribbons and blue string.
You sew one circle to the next with elegance and calm. I meet you during the
switching of organs from one tired body to the next. We bring sets of lungs snug
in nests of ice from those who no longer make the heat to warm them.

This is the summer in which I work madly on my hamstrings, obsessed
with shaping them into a retracted bow string. Perhaps this is because
I have heard that the legs will carry you forward. I stomp up flights of stairs until
my thighs vibrate. I sit into utkatasana until my hips sting.
And I wonder about the rest of my life.

After we have neatly packaged and tucked away newly sewn and happy arteries;
after the metal hearts have been snapped into place and we have carefully but firmly
sealed sternums and ribs; then I come alive in your soft hands. Long
after our patients drift to sleep, rocked gently by ventilators and lulled by liquid
sedation, the hospital emits spaceship hums and soft groans which I hope
are enough to cover my own. Tucked momentarily into your long curves, even your
soft snores quicken my heart. I beg the seconds to slow, the sun to extend its journey
on the other side of the earth. After our bodies finally click together, we whisper
through the few lingering moments of the left over night.
And I do not wonder about the rest of my life.

For a time, my life glows again and everything is illuminated.
The sickness that surrounds us becomes tolerable. As we fly
to the gardens of organs where we pick and collect,
the constant threat of rejection is less sinister. But the summer drains
and slows. You return to your house. The red horse and I begin again to ride.
The foreign words I have learned to call you are slowly forgotten
from my tongue. Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir become places
I will again never go. In my own bed again,
I wonder about the rest of my life.

Literature + Medicine explores compassion and science at the bedside. For the past four years, this annual seminar hosted at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas has offered a unique opportunity to join prominent scholars and physicians in an interactive seminar, which investigates the connection between literary understanding and medical knowledge.
First Prize for Poetry: Jessica Harvey-Taylor — Red Ribbon, Blue String