I couldn’t think of a better title for this one, and I couldn’t come up with anything else for Donna‘s prompt (to write a poem starting with the heart that includes an animal, two cities – I cheated slightly on that part, something celestial, and an admonition beginning “we must”). The title/first line just popped into my head, and the rest followed from there. I like it enough, with its quirky vision-y aspect, I suppose. Sometimes if I let my mind wander enough, it brings back something glimmery.
If the Heart Were a Thing of Bones
If the heart were a thing of bones,
I imagine they’d be thread-thin, barracuda pinbones
buried carefully in meat. Hundreds of suggestions
that we have to dig for. They could
vault the tops of the ventricles like a cathedral ceiling,
clenching and unclenching in common time
but still so easy to snap in two.
And if the heart were a thing of branches,
it might be hung with leatherback fruit, whose cores
swell with seeds. You can pick love like pith from
under your fingernails, twist it and see
the tang spray through the air. In the autumn,
everything the heart has to offer would drop down
to be scooped clean by sparrows,
leaving a delicate whorl of an organ enclosing
a shape that is no longer there.
If the heart were a thing of stone,
I think it would be veined through with creek gold,
one cracked lump of crystal that shines when it’s
turned in the light. Or maybe
an opal that squeezes itself through with colors.
We must hunt for our treasures in the evening;
we trade the most precious things at night.
And if the heart were a thing of pages,
it should be written black with our pain, turned into
sheaves of the night sky; then we could begin again,
penning out our memories of light.
Always bind it up with threads of Suzhou silk and
armor of Lombard leather. Then carry it up with you,
to the top of any tower you can find.
The heart is a thing that has something to say
to be read by the truth of the moon.