Lee Herrick

Issue #
September 27, 2015

The Heart

Let us remember the heart.
You can stir it up or stone it up,
carve out a moat to blockade it
with murky water and little alligators
to protect it, or invent stories
with limping villains who scratch
their names into its chambers
and assign natives the blame.
You can pray to reshape it or
re-imagine it as an open hand.

What if it could atrophy or implode?
What about xenograft?
The butterfly’s long chambered heart
forms after the chrysalis splits.
The little beauty lives for only
two weeks, so its heart would not do
or maybe you would take flight.
What about the heart’s ambition,
the drunk pianist’s secret love
arranged near the tall vase?

Imagine Christian Barnard’s hands.
He performed the first heart transplant
in 1967. Imagine the size of Kelly Perkins’
new heart, when she scaled Mount Kilimanjaro
with it. Take yours and its aspirations,
what it wants to scale or embrace.
Let us remember the heart beats
thirty five million times per year,
the size of a child’s fist, a child’s
question, once around the sun.

Spar, reunite—take truth, death, faith,
and myth—mix with water and patience.
I apologize for my imperfections’ open mouths
touting their little slogans in the moonlight,
but not for my heart’s little beating into
the morning hours, a pulse, a mountain,
but mostly I do not apologize for my heart’s
late surfacing, its perfect missing chunk
from the upper chamber that takes five years
to properly close and then, once more, open.

Originally published in Gardening Secrets of the Dead, WordTech Editions, 2012

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