It was a kind of trespass into the unknown, a machine
but not a machine—mechanical pumps working as human heart and lung.
It was a confirmation of our inadequacy: each hour required 5 watts of power.
Here perfusionists cooled the body to 82.4° F, a kind of hypothermia,
a prevention of ischemic injury. It was the stopping
of time. A silencing of the heart. A body stripped down to the wedding band
surrounded by surgeons in masks.

They were children circumnavigating a haunted house,
trekking into private property. The bypass. A forbidden ground,
a double dare, a god’s game. Here the PhDs, the rich and the poor
lived or died without laws. It was a rerouting
around the mountain, a way of avoiding the congestion in the tunnel.
It was the detour among detours, a circumvention
of the city, a means of getting by.

Here the courageous were fearful. A strong man became weak,
a grown woman became a child. Although the skin of his face sagged
against the bone. Although she looked more grandmother than mother.
He no longer had the answers. Her fingers could not twist the child-proof cap.
Here the orchids lose their blooms. Will they be tended by hired hands or tender
hands? Frail leaves and roots over peat moss. A quiver in the draft,
a muffled cough. Phlegm from the lung.

The bypass was a shot at passing up the apple in the Garden of Eden,
grace in the disguise of affliction. The bypass. It was a rescue mission.
Skin cells flaked off the body and dogs found the scent along the trail.
Survivors of the fall were rescued here. Those who believed it
became branches of the vine, a graft into the line of David,
a vein of the leg acting as an artery of the heart


Sandy Tseng has been selected a finalist for The Nation‘s 2005 “Discovery” Prize and the

2005 Writers at Work Fellowship Competition. She received her B.A. from Dickinson College and her M.F.A. from the University of

Pittsburgh. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband, where she is working on her first book.

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