Poems & Essays

24 Aug

Ventricular Septal Defect

Babyhood No Response

At twenty weeks, the doctors gave
an ultrasound that discovered a tiny

hole in the baby’s heart. “Small,” 
he said. “May close on its own.

But sometimes they stay open, 
and then surgery’s needed. We’ll see 

at your next appointment.” For one month, 
I carried that information in my chest 

like a jack-in-the-box, unexpectedly popping 
open fear about a valve that might leak 

like a fountain pen. I found myself in traffic 
waiting for the light to change, 

sewing in my mind, taking thread so fine 
it’s sinewy iridescence barely seen 

and stitching the tiny hole shut. Down 
through the growing skin, back up 

catching the soft flap of fresh skin. Up and down, 
using the same delicate tension my grandmother 

taught me to use to create even stitches, 
until I’d sewn the hole shut thousands of times. 

At the clinic, after another ultrasound, the doctor said, 
“Looky here, nothing to worry about.”

Dana Salvador’s work has been featured in the Prairie Schooner, descant (forthcoming), North American Review, Literary Mama, Water~Stone Review, Red Rock Review, and North Dakota Quarterly, among others. Additionally, she is the recipient of a Vogelstein Foundation Grant and the recipient of the 2016 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award.

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