In my hand I’m holding a warm, beating heart. About the size of a softball, it’s a luminous globe of scarlet, pink, and white tissue.
I can feel its chambers contracting and hear the whoosh of the fluid it’s still pumping. It’s slimy and gives off a slightly pungent odor.
The organ is alive almost eight hours after I watched Paul Iaizzo remove it from a sedated pig in a basement lab, connect it to tubes simulating arteries and veins, and spark it back into rhythm with an electric jolt, as a paramedic would shock a human heart back to life. Although it’s outside the pig’s body, the heart flexes and lurches on its own, driven by some unseen, unexplained, primordial force. More than grotesque, I find it hypnotic and beautiful.