Electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors are like nonfiction writers: taking in the world and spitting it out in fewer dimensions with more meaning—maybe even some sense. ECGs only show electrical activity, not a heart’s physical pumping, so they are a highly biased picture, like a writer’s gallons of ink on a page.
For three days, thousands of uninsured Americans converge on the Wise County Fairgrounds for the largest pop-up clinic in the country. Most are poor, many are in pain, but all have faith in a level of care that neither the government nor private industry can provide.
The mouse before me is dead, its body emptied of organs. Dead but still innervated, so still blinking in this world. I only harvest from their core—heart, lungs, liver, and the rest—but soon I will have to work with their brains.
To contemplate Walt Whitman now, at the dawn of a new millennium in an America so deeply troubled by division and hypocrisy—almost the antithesis of the great nation of inclusion and tolerance he envisioned in Leaves of Grass—is intensely ironic indeed.