Listening To The Wrong Heartbeat

Icy rain after a few beautiful days of sun.  Spring holds out it's perfumed hand then slaps us in the face.  The herring spawned, but on the islands off shore it seems, so even that seems to have sucked spring away from us.  The eagles and the gulls singing their spring song off on the coast might ass well be in California.  Maybe tomorrow, or maybe next week.  

Ten days ago my doctor said my heart was not acting right and he sent me to see a cardiologist in Seattle, which caused my overactive imagination to really kick into gear. I have not treated my heart well over the years, I scoff at diets and exercise plans, and I tend to worry too much.  I come from a long line of worriers.  I don't enjoy worrying, and I'm not a gratuitous worrier I just worry, randomly and frequently.  A friend is going to fly to Rwanda, she has done it before, but still, I think of the time changes, should she stay up all night before she goes?  Should she sleep all day?  I don't know,  I read up on it.  Then she leaves.  I think she should have stayed up all night not slept on the plane.  She is not the type to do that, but who am I to say?  I've never traveled that far east.  What if she gets stuck somewhere?  What kind of money do they use in Rwanda.  She'll have figured that out.  Jesus.  She knows this.  Stop. it.  

That kind of thing. 

When I have something real to worry about it goes through the roof.  I think Jan hates having Parkinson's mostly because of me, and that's not just my narcissism... wait... or is it?  You see?  She will watch my face when she walks haltingly to the door, and she'll scowl at me, I won't say a word, she'll just say,  "Stop it."  that's it.  I say, "What? I'm just standing here holding the door for you, like a dope."  but I know exactly what she is saying.  She is saying "Stop making it harder for me by worrying."  

The people at Virgina Mason Hospital were unbelievably sweet to me.  They pointed at little squiggles on machines and clucked their tongues and said,  you need to see Dr. So and So.  and very quickly I saw Dr. So and So.  It happened very quickly and before I knew it I was under this big machine and a man was putting a long needle in my femoral artery and taking pictures of my heart.  I was wide awake and feeling wonderful, and strangely talkative, and I told them all a story about the drug fentenyl which they were giving me just then, how when my mother was dying she was given fentenyl and I sat by her bed and read her all of Out of Africa by Isaac Dinesen, and  as I read, I got to a part that I felt was offensive, particularly to my mother for political reasons because of colonial/ imperialist reasons, and so I skipped over it, and my mother lifted her head up from her death bed, just like a little child when you read her a book and said..." Hey, you skipped a part," and didn't you doctors think that was something? and the doctor who was holding the wire that was going up into my heart and was just then looking at a picture of it said,  "Mr. Straley, you mother had a remarkable memory but I think that you worry to much." 

As it turned out it's true.  My heart is strong.  I have big large pipes in my heat, as clear as the Holland Tunnel at four in the morning on Christmas Day, but I do worry to much.  I got back to work and I wrote my resignation letter for my job.  I'm going to put together a book of my poems and I don't give a damn if they get published or not.  I don't give a damn about any of that stuff anymore,  publishing or reputation, or reviews, I'll finish my new novel by summer.  I just love being able to remember the stories I remember and be able to tell them to someone who will listen.

That's all that matters. When the end comes, I don't have to worry, I'll be there. I won't miss it. Today when I woke up the herring were in our little cove and the gulls were singing their spring herring song, lovely and loud. The sea water was a lovely aqua-greenish white and some men were placing hemlock bows on a lines just off the beach.  

Another spring has come and it didn't take any effort on my part after all.  All that worrying for naught.

Spring came at night. 

Now gulls sing their herring song. 

We leave sheets rumpled. 


jhs....Sitka, AK