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Norma Smith


How the electrical impulse
begins in the small part
of the heart and provokes
the pumping
of the necessary

fluid, which will carry everything
we need
to live, everything
we can't do without
those impulses
carried forward,

Carried down, 
around this body's desire
to liveand move/about
a spark
in a small place.


About the poet:

Norma Smith has lived and worked in Oakland, California, for the better part of forty years. She has worked in hospitals her entire adult life, including a few years as an EKG monitor technician in an intensive care unit.

About the poem:

"This poem was written during the period leading up to my mother's death from heart failure. I love how the body and its physiology lend themselves to metaphor, and how a line of poetry can illuminate that and help us see the whole person, the whole life, even as we're focused on the body's functioning in the moment."

Poetry editors:

Judy Schaefer and Johanna Shapiro