The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Nerve Chorus by Willa Carroll

Incise the skin, crack open the ribcage.
Peel back the right lung like a curtain,
draw the other open, making a theater
of the body, heart convulsing in place.
If nerves to the brain were cut, cardiac
cells would beat onward in a slow chorus.
My brother, a trauma surgeon, pumps
a heart with his gloved hands, a heart
belonging to a construction worker
wheeled on a gurney after a massive
crane collapse. My brother’s arms
tire as he feels it stop & start, stop &
start, feeling with his hands the man’s
heart not wanting to stop, until it does.

This selection comes from the book, Nerve Chorus, available from The Word Works.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Willa Carroll is the author of Nerve Chorus (The Word Works), one of Entropy Magazine’s Best Poetry Books of 2018 and a Small Press Distribution Bestseller. A finalist for The Georgia Poetry Prize, she was the winner of Tupelo Quarterly’s TQ7 Poetry Prize and Narrative Magazine’s Third Annual Poetry Contest. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal, Narrative, Tin House, The Slowdown, and elsewhere. Her poetry videos and multimedia works have been featured in Narrative Outloud, Interim Poetics, Writers Resist, etc. She holds a MFA from Bennington 

Nilsa Rivera writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s also the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications. Nilsa’s work appeared in the Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Selkie Literary Magazine. She lives in Miami, Florida with her husband, son, and other multi-species family members.


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