Chambers

If you press your ear against my chest you will hear a clock ticking, a slow and heavy pendulum dangling.

An aorta feeding organs blood, the sound of rushing rivers and waterfalls in suspended silence, then crashing on rocks below. Inside four chambers lie four very different worlds. One gray and black with a murmur, a flutter. A beat. A murmuration of birds, flying together as one shape changing trapeze act. Shifting with wind, with movement of an arm or the brush of fingers through hair. My body conducts them, endlessly swirling, colliding like chemical flakes in a snowglobe.

Second chamber is a field of grass where I would run naked as a child and pick daisies that were as tall as my head. Remembering the feeling of grass touching my skin and coloring my legs like a paintbrush. How the world was seen from inside that field and it stretched for as far as my eyes could see. A quiet crawlspace of a chamber where one could crawl beneath the grass and hide with crickets and ladybugs-poke your head out to be touched by butterflies.

Third chamber is for my sorrow. It is deep scarlet red, with chocolate undertones. This chamber is cold and hollow, yet full of voices and words that bounce off walls. Words like sex and love and ache. Words that mean betrayal and feel like sharpened knives. This chamber is for storage, full of drawers and old letters filed next to lessons learned and categorized by relevance. It is cluttered and often gusts of wind come in and scatter everything. Your patterns become clear stretched out before you and you promise you won’t make that mistake again-but you do, you just do it differently this time. You disguise it, but underneath it’s still the same. You cannot truly grow in this chamber. You come here to learn, to remember, to grieve.

The fourth chamber is for my son. A safe space beneath my breast where he still cradles his head and listens to the rhythm of my breath. Of my beat. Of the first sound he knew, before my voice, before a song or a story read. My pulse was his music, his soundtrack to dance to. He knows the sound of it racing or panicked, the sound when it sleeps or is alarmed, the sound it makes when I’m relaxed or contemplating or when I’m giving birth or when I was breastfeeding.

If you pressed your ear to my heart beat you would hear whispers of birch bark and beds of ferns by the edge of a bog, you would hear owls calling in the night, a galaxy being born and another dying.

You would hear the words, “Don’t leave me alone here.” You would hear fear and the voice of a little girl who just wanted to please. You would hear the words, “I just can’t let it go” and they would be a lie, because I can let it go, I choose not to. I choose not to because sometimes it’s easier to hold onto something that has hurt you when that pain has become so familiar that you know it like reading braille with your fingertips. Hurt is intimate. So instead of letting it go, you let it stay. It may be one of the only memories you have left of him. You may have thrown many of the good ones away. And sometimes we need reminders. You would hear the words, “Sometimes we need reminders, that even though love is painful, we accept and choose that pain. Sometimes pain is more familiar than pleasure.”

You might hear the sound of a smile, or my heart swelling, you might hear it burst or set itself aflame with anger if someone it loves is being mistreated. It may tell you to go. It may not say a word. It’s a powerful, yet fickle living machine.

If I stretch my limbs out I can feel it pumping, pushing blood to my fingertips and circulating. If I listen carefully I can hear it flow through my head, the murmur, the beat, the memories.

Murmuration
Beat.
Childhood
Beat.
Sorrow.
Beat.
Son
Beat.
Heart
Beat.
Write
Beat.
Now
Beat.

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If

If you crack the sternum, forcing apart the ribs, opening like spider legs you will see rows of dusty books, worn pages, creased and bent full of years passed.You will smell a field of daisies I ran in as a girl. You’ll hear whispered words of love, echoing anger, the sound of loss falling like soft rain. My heart may tighten and recoil, lungs expanding like developing cities. Veins like an electric grid. The image of an iron bikini clad warrior woman riding a tiger, sword raised in the air, she lives within, guardian of the bones she spills over. An open window of flesh. This is what pours out. 

An open window, beckoning in the light, the soft filtered kind that sifts through curtains, that finds the scalloped holes in lace. A soft breeze, hibiscus tea, a shroud of burgundy silk to wrap around your organs, a needle and thread to mend the broken pieces, to sew new stories making patterns out of tissue and cells. This is what is let in.

New and old passing each other in torrents of escape and embrace. A big bang, a kaleidoscope. A window in my chest, only slightly ajar. The ever present motion. In. Out. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

A Love Letter to Self

A love letter to myself. A parting gift, an offering. A bleeding heart tied in string, beating delicately. The removal of such vital parts, an open cleansing.

I float this anatomical heart like a velvet kite, wrinkled and worn. Let go like I did as a child. Push it toward the sun.

Third grade, a secret note scribbled with a message to no one, tied to a red balloon, return address complete. I imagined it would soar across seas, that some stranger in a foreign country would see it land softly at their feet, or save it, tangled in a tree. A simple red balloon with the power to soar in jetstreams, through fog in and around constellations. Waiting, just waiting to be noticed, to be read, to softly give in, allowing gravity to choose its destiny. 

I cast my heart, bleeding over fields, strawberry rain. Empty me. Mi corazon, washing ashore on some foreign beach. Children poking it with sticks, sealing it in a mason jar, tucked in a bed of moss. It rests far outside of me. I give it away without fear, without return. I feel the beat, a phantom organ pumping memory through me.