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