<p>by Gregory Williams, MD<br />Mesa, AZ<br />&nbsp;<br /><strong>Harvest</strong><br />The surgeon presses the scalpel deep to the<br />breastbone and orders: Harvest the heart.<br />You might envision a man in white lab coat<br />plucking it from a tree, the ripest of all the<br />hearts sagging the limbs in the heart orchard<br />behind the hospital; next to the fields where<br />kidneys grow in perfectly straight alternating<br />rows of Left and Right, converging to a point<br />past the horizon; near the experimental<br />greenhouse where brains and even<br />consciousness itself sprout tiny buds in<br />climate-controlled bell jars.<br />But there are no farms and there is no<br />growing season for human hearts. They<br />arrive by chance. Mostly at a time when you<br />are asleep and mothers pause before<br />answering the phone. They tumble down<br />gravel roads, buffered inside bony cages,<br />and roll through automatic glass doors into<br />emergency rooms, where they will be<br />passed like gold batons, one at a time, from<br />grief to hope to a waiting chest.<br />&nbsp;<br />(This prose poem originally appeared in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. JAMA, October 13, 2004—Vol 292, No. 14)</p>