Heart Conditions


By Millicent Borges Accardi

In the early days of the disease,
There is nothing else to call it,
We were giddy with guessing
Treatment, symptoms and hope.
We knew there was a pattern
and measures we could take.
Giddy and happy to have been
Saved again with a new rental
Agreement On life. There was
Recuperation that felt like healing.
The hope that things would get better.
There was a pathway stronger and clearer
To take. We mixed potions and meds
In a shoe box, each doctor visit an opportunity
To fine-tune the cocktail. You were young
For this sort of thing, a 40-something man
In a sea of waiting room seniors,
With much time to figure things out,
To get it right. A younger body heals
quickly, and each new year there are new
Drugs. Every time we blink there is a lab study,
Or a control group. There is time, more
Than time if you had gotten this at 70 or 80.
Still able to travel, enjoy life, even work
And drive. There was not a task or event
We mentioned except boxing that the doctor
Did not smile over and approve, explaining
That anything was possible. As if to tempt fate,
That first autumn, you got out of a sick bed
To build a new fence, jamming post piles
Into the ground with the same brute strength
You had at 20. Defying the odds. You used power
Tools and threw back bottles of the dark brandy,
You quit then started then finally quit. And then
Smoking the unfiltered Nat’s you had favored
In college, dizzy with the promise of new life,
A new start. I was a new wife to you.
There were countries to explore, battles
to be fought, languages to adopt and twist
And make into our own.

–from Only More So (Salmon Poetry 2016). Posted with the author’s permission.

Millicent Borges Accardi, a Portuguese-American writer, is the author of four poetry books, most recently Only More So (Salmon Poetry). Her awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Fulbright, CantoMundo, Creative Capacity, the California Arts Council, Fundação Luso-Americana, and Barbara Deming Foundation. She’s led poetry workshops at Keystone College, Nimrod Writers Conference, The Muse in Norfolk, Virginia, and University of Texas, Austin. Her non-fiction can be found in The Writers Chronicle, Poets Quarterly, and the Portuguese American Journal. Recent readings at Brown University, Rutgers, UMass Dartmouth, Rhode Island College and the Carr Series at the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana.

If you or a loved one suffer from a cardiac condition like arrhythmia and are feeling overwhelmed by the disease, there are several online support groups dedicated to cardiac conditions. Two of these can be accessed here and here.

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