'I went to the hospital to hear my heart beat in her various chambers'

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There is nothing quite like the relief of good news from the doctors. Of course, it is a reminder of the bad news we eventually expect, the faith that the word “cure” demands of us. I have always enjoyed Hilda Raz’s wry sense of humour, and this poem is no different.



by Hilda Raz


I am sick with worry when you call.

You tell me a story about ears

How the doctor asked about your earaches

Peered in and pronounced “Pristine.

Clean as a whistle.” And you were cured.


Because I am a maker of poems

And you are a maker of music

You tell me the word pristine was perfect.

It was the cure.


Yesterday I went to the hospital

To hear my heart beat in her various chambers.

I knew the sounds:

The Fly Bird from the right ventricle

The Go Go from the left

The Here I am from under the rib.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by Hilda Raz, ‘Pristine’ from List & Story, (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by the Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska

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