ZOË by Brigit Andersson
by Brigit Andersson
Born with multiple spinal malformations. Missing ribs on the left side—only flesh to guard the collapsed lung. One right lung won’t keep a baby breathing. Slice her throat, insert a trach and attach her to a ventilator. Construct a chest wall with the Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib. Insides on the outside. Red balloon, dark blue tether. Breathe.
Her room was a disco of yellow and red. Heart beats pulsed throughout the house. In Loco Parentis three shifts a day. Grounded by the ventilator, unable to fly. Exploring the seafloor with iron lungs, attached at the line. Kept from the warm grasp of parents by perspiring blue ridged tubes.
Five years of machinery shadows.
Gliding over creaky wooden planks. Snorkeling at the ocean surface. Weaving through the ornaments of the first floor. Cracked spongeware; Civil War phlebotomy knives; a modern, vaguely Japanese lamp, a rusted rake; a marquetry box, teeming with keys. Everlasting—like the hardware that remains dangling beneath her clavicle. Her body, crafted.
Brigit Andersson is a senior at Temple University, majoring in philosophy and receiving certificates in both creative writing and ethics.
Image credit: Cristian Palmer on Unsplash