Thursday, August 9, 2007

Two More Lessons

Lesson Fourteen

Find a pen pal, preferably one in prison. Write him long letters in which you describe the minutiae of your daily life. His life is absent of trivia. Everything for him is significant, philosophic, self-flagellating. His letters are endlessly questioning. You imagine a life beside such a man, a quiet evening of rigorous introspection. You would hold hands, discuss the insignificance of your lives beneath a sky punctured with stars. When he asks for a photograph of you, you send him a picture of a woman from your cousin’s wedding. The woman is beautiful, more beautiful than you. Beyond that, she looks as if she capable of loving a man who suffers every nuanced thing. You of course are not. Your letters become increasingly cheerful, almost hysterically so. Descriptions of your weekly trips to the market are treatise on the bounty of nature, the miracle of modern refrigeration. You should get a job in advertising, catalogue the artifice of the present for the future. His letters shrink in on themselves. He is after all living in a cell. The last note he sends contains only three words. You cannot tell if it is a question or a statement. This is you.

Lesson Fifteen

A love poem will not save you. What can you do with a fleeting lyric, some hopeful rhyme scheme? Focus on other kinds of languaging. There is always the immediate satiation of propaganda. Take the cardiac transplant industry. They will tell you, a new heart can save your life. But your body will see the transplant as an infection. That is why rejection medication is necessary. Every day you will have to swallow another pill. Some combination of cyclosporine, tacrolimus, mycophenolate, mofetil, prednisone, azathioprine. This makes you vulnerable to antigens such as thrush, herpes, respiratory viruses. You have a very short prognosis. After a transplant, men have a longer predicted lifespan than women. No one has bothered to explain this. Instead they describe different kinds of procedures, different kinds of hearts. Remember that guy at the party for the aging photographer who had a baboon heart? He was drinking malbec in a lead crystal glass and channeling his dead primate. A few months later the man died too. The most successful patient survived 28 years. His heart was taken from the victim of a traffic accident. Blunt force trauma. When the brain dies the heart does not. Your own heart was removed in an orthotopic procedure, the great vessel transected, a portion of the left atrium excised. Before your chest cavity was closed, nothing was sutured to the remaining vessels. Nothing in fact was ever put in its place.

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