A Cardiologist Seeks Certainty

Denise Bundred, Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist.





I spread cold gel on a newborn chest

rest the probe on creamy skin, angle

between ribs, rotate to find a heart

no larger than the tiny fist

pushing me away.


Two dimensions defy translation into three

as I locate chambers

amid the maze of vessels.

A millimeter of movement and the image melts

to snowstorm on my screen.

I re-trace arcs of ultrasound to relieve

|the twist of doubt.

Adrenalin dries saliva as I strive to decide

whether the aorta arches

to the left or right.


The nurse checks the prescription

against an ampoule, initials in black ink

secure in her certainty of drug and dose.


The surgeon weighs my words

to determine his incision

shape his operation

as the incubator trundles towards theatre

escorting mother and the nurse.


I resolve inconsistencies

into diagnosis, wipe the sweat

from my hands, write my notes;

make my decision.



Notes

This poem won the 2016 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, and was first published in the prize anthology in the same year.



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