Open Heart

by Karen Luke Jackson

A ball of honeyed light
the size of a lemon
dashes from heart to knee,
rests behind a shoulder blade, flees
to a hip when I’m shimmied
from bed to gurney and wheeled
into surgery. Soon I am asleep,
or so it seems, but she is not.
Now she quivers outside my heart,
terrified by the beeping
pumps hosing fluid into limbs,
the mask smothering my mouth
compelling body to breathe.
She dims, divides like mercury,
sends small drops of herself,
now thunderstorm gray,
toward a finger, a toe. As far
as possible from the chest.
She does not know why
she agreed to accompany me
into flesh and bone,
does not want to stay.
But if she vanishes, I will die.
That she knows.
So, like a child, she hides
and peers through keyholes.

Karen Luke Jackson, author of GRIT and The View Ever Changing, draws upon contemplative practices, nature, clowning, and oral history for inspiration. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including Broad River Review (Rash Poetry Award), Atlanta Review, Ruminate, Friends Journal, and Channel Magazine. A poet, educator, and retreat leader with the Center for Courage & Renewal, Karen resides in a cottage on a goat pasture in Flat Rock, North Carolina.