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MFA Creative Writing - Columbia University
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The iron jacket
By Georgina Berbari
Sometimes when I go home, I forget to put on my iron jacket. Those are the times I think I might die. I’m serious.
I was born with a hole in my chest. There was no way for the doctors to stitch it up completely so now I have these little man-made craters on my chest. My mother tells me that I look like the moon.
You have to look really closely, but when you do you’re able to see tiny pockets where the air eagerly rushes in to caress my heart. Think of those microscopic holes in a window’s screen or a crack in a plastic cup that you don’t notice until water begins dribbling down your chin, neck, between your breasts. These superficial wounds many times go unnoticed. Well, that’s what happened to me, at least.
Before I was given my iron jacket, everything penetrated me with ease. I could feel dust motes tickling my raw heart and when I bathed, sometimes it felt like my organs were drowning. There was even a moment in the summertime when a mosquito nuzzled itself into my body and bit my exposed heart. The pain was so intense that I thought I was going to die, but I didn’t.
I remember sobbing for a week straight when the first boy I loved broke my heart. On the last day my body was a desert, my heart angry and inflamed. I remember vowing to myself that I would never feel that way again, that I would protect my heart so fiercely that nothing could ever touch it. And then that was it—that was my life’s work.