Howie Good

Heart Sounds

You unbutton most of the buttons of your blouse. The doctor places a cold stethoscope against your chest. He listens in silence to your heart. He listens with his eyes closed. He listens for what soon seems to you an unusually long time. You start to wonder what it is he’s hearing. The dry rattle of old heartaches? The volcanic rumblings of pent-up emotions? The beats your heart skipped last night during the exertions of lovemaking?  The doctor is frowning in concentration as he listens. Whoa, he finally says, there’s a lot going on in there.


There’s a lump about the size of a marble under the skin of my left palm. I showed it to my brother, a doctor, when he dropped by the house. He felt the lump, pressed it, asked me if it hurt. He said I had something called Dupuytren’s Contracture. As I age, my fingers will contract inwards. Eventually my hand will turn into a kind of useless claw. I won’t be able to put my hand in my pocket anymore or pick up a coffee cup with it or cup her breast. I’ll have to learn to grasp at straws with just one hand.

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