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Stigmata Every third man among my friends and neighbors bears a sternum scar where surgeons spread his ribs apart to do their healing work. This half-hidden sign is worn, like the hennaed beards of faithful who've made the pilgrimage to Mecca; or those select whose tribal tattoos denote the brave who've passed a test of living. Surgeons squinting in the cavity see in the quiescent heart a damaged pump to repair, replace a valve, sew up a leak, scrape out a waxy clog in fuel lines, while the auxiliary motor chugs a steady pace. Emotions, too, may savage this tender muscle, leave scars no scalpel will remove, of grief, or unrequited love, or bitter gall of misplaced trust, or shattered dreams of thwarted aspiration.
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