I carry around a new heart, it is smaller than my old one.
It flutters like a little bird inside my ribcage.
In the process of loosing my old heart, I moved many times.
It took a thousand days for me to find my new heart.
I was upon the ship, indeed, I traversed waters so severe
it was as if I was no longer body. I was sick. I was petrified, fleshy rock.
The various bodies of water carried me as I gagged & gargled & spit-
my stomach throwing up tiny wooden rescue boats over and over,
splintering my mouth as they would float up & find me,
bringing my sore body back up for air, again & again, until suddenly one day,
I had remembered how to float.
And I floated. I floated & floated & I waited, until suddenly one day,
after the waters had calmed & I had floated for some time more,
there it was right inside of me. I had a new heart.
I was not surprised nor was I happy to find a new heart. I believe it was a Sunday.
It was an odd day. I was stumbling down a road, searching for a new home & I came
across a gaggle of seamstresses.
My old heart was wary & tired & I rolled my eyes a little, because I could not think of a proper
word to identify such an odd little group.
They were more exciting than a flock, less menacing than a murder. They did bumble about,
grandiose gestures with their hands & often gushing about a new skirt, a new joke,
or the beauty of the morning, drinking coffee for hours & always singing & clucking,
sharing their eggs with the others. They were loud, but somehow graceful,
with beautiful arms slim & ever reaching.
I began to refer to them as a gaggle, as each one was long necked & slender
& full of little shrieks & laughter that cut through the wind of a day like a knife.
They did not so much remind me of geese–they were more raw, but contained
a similar contentment. And they knew how to give just the right kind of stare.
They told me they knew how to sew. I was intrigued. I could not sew.
This gaggle of seamstresses were very resourceful. They had learned how to use
what they got. They made sewing needles from sticks, staying up late into the night
to carve only the tiniest and sharpest of needle points. Some of them had short hair,
but the seamstresses with the long hair would pull their thin strands out,
strand by strand, as needed, some golden, some black as night.
These seamstresses were all very nitpicky, & very tough.
They refused to let me rest. For days, they forced me outside,
into the sun, & pulling the long strands from their heads, they had me stitch
as if it were for forever, my fingers bleeding the red back in–
It was a Sunday morning. I finally sewed together my new heart.
Initially, when I lost my old heart, I moved into an attic.
The attic was long & the ceiling was pointed like a triangle.
The whole thing reminded me of a sad dollhouse,
the kind a little girl stops playing with after awhile
where you can still see smudges from the little girl’s fingerprints-
mud & dust.
I paced a lot when I had my old heart. I’d walk the length
of the attic, over and over, careful to stick to the route,
a narrow width of hallway before the walls slanted so far down
down the side you’d hit your head.
It was full of strange colors, olive green walls &
bright blue cabinets. A makeshift kitchen with wooden beams.
One small window the size of my face. I would stare out,
as if I was on a tiny ship, but I would never leave the small cabin below the deck.
It was a Sunday when I finally left the attic.
Recently, my ribs have broken open & my new heart
travels the world thoroughly.
When my ribs broke, there was some splintering.
Pieces of bone exploded, jagged
with just enough room for the heart to squeeze
out through the opening & fly away. Free of its cage, my new heart is okay
with mundane or magic. My new heart does not expect or seek.
My new heart meanders, a tiny bird traveling
the whole world, without expectation.
This tiny bird of a heart is a slow flyer.
She has not yet grown full wings,
but instead has grown lashes, much like the lashes on
my eyes. The lashes are thin, feathery.
My new heart is a phenomenon–
You can not see it when it passes by, much like the invisible ships-
stories we heard of so long ago.
Invisible ships were so terrifying, it is said that we created radar for this reason,
to spot ships lost at sea, ships launched for war, ships seeking refuge & growth.
Back in the old days, ships started rumors, ships sought conquest or truth,
whether the earth was round or flat.
In seeking, my new heart has become a phenomenon to me.
A man long ago, it is said the year was 1770,
carried a journal. Inside this journal he wrote his thoughts.
He was sailing a great ship, headed by Captain Cook.
The ship was named Endeavor & they were sailing foreign seas.
They sailed & they sailed, until one day, they arrived at a new island.
The topographers of the ship proclaimed excitement.
They sat with their pencils atop the parchment paper, drawing the new island
upon their maps, using their index fingers & thumb to measure
distance between sun & air, determined to figure out the approximate
kilometers between one island & the next. They jot down random numbers
& sail closer to the new island. The new island was full of native people.
It was an early afternoon on Sunday, the holy day.
The man wrote in his journal, I am startled by their lack of awe ,
as the ship sailed closer to shore. The native people were ambivalent.
The ship was so magically real, the native people couldn’t even perceive of such a phenomenon.
The mind can play tricks when it comes to the magically real.
And so they didn’t see the ship coming at them.
Being that my new heart is like a ghost ship, the great mystery, it is very difficult to spot.
It is incredibly selective about where it goes & who it shares itself with.
It is said they created radar for this reason, to spot
the ghost ships, the silent ships, ships seeking solace or islands not yet learned.
My new heart does not seek conquest, my new heart seeks small
love & so it is very careful where it docks.
It was on a Sunday that the ship was finally spotted.
Aorta, the mightiest vessel
explodes into three rivers at the top, much like the city
I was born in, pumping rivers upstream.
It is true that my new heart is beating.
Depending on the day, the colors of the rivers change,
spectral coordinates of scarlet, wine, maroon
dictate route & mood. For simplicity’s sake,
I call all the vessels of my new heart
‘Red River‘. It helps to keep the name the same.
I let the heart pump, let it recede & carry forth again
into some new day.
On partly sunny days, I most enjoy traveling
the inferior vena cava. It is a lazy river, reminds
me of living in the swamps & those few easy days last summer,
the clear blue water & swimming in the spring &
I still had my old heart then. It was not a Sunday.
I thought I was in love with my friend & I probably was,
but only because I didn’t yet have my new heart.
Sometimes my new heart is a butterfly.
One night this summer, I let myself get so close to someone
our bodies interlocked. When we finally parted we laid
side by side, quiet for a long time, staring at the ceiling.
It was peaceful. We were in an old school building.
You could hear the footsteps of people milling the hall
& we pretended to be asleep. I turned my head just so.
My lashes brushed his shoulder & it was a Sunday.
It was on a Sunday I began teaching him how to float.
He could not do it, I held his body up atop the water
for hours, & we splashed around & he could not float,
I held him for some time, but he was not ready,
he has not yet found his new heart.