A group of physical therapy interns likes to exchange anecdotes of weird science while I work my clamshell reps and hip flexions in the common room. Today, it's all about 3D printing— how scientists have managed to reprogram a patient's cells and engineer an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers. For now, the organ is no bigger than the heart of a rabbit and can only contract. They haven't figured out yet how to make the bio-inked muscles pump in that crucial rhythm so the thing behaves exactly like a heart— For instance, in the evenings, now that it's warmer, we've seen a rabbit and her baby come out from under the back deck to nibble on the clover. The tremor under the twitch of fur is visible though they seem to have grown used to our presence and don't startle as quick as they used to. I feel my non- printed 3D heart beat faster from my exertions, and slow down as I finish. No doubt the goal is to someday have a science that can replace a patient's failing internal organs without having to wait for a medical chopper rushing to deliver a cooler packed with a lung or a liver or a heart harvested from a matching donor who's just expired in an accident on the highway. A miracle, they exclaimed, after the first human to human heart transplant took place in South Africa, 1967. A miracle, they say again, as the machine delivers the squishy, slightly rubbery prototype— though it will take time to perfect this technology. I wonder how it will react to fire, threat, danger; to the glimpse of a long-missed one approaching after years of separation; to the bearable silence that makes an opening in the dappled leaves, some evening after sorrow.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.