From the archives – What Breaks the Human Heart (iv) — Bebe Cook

What Breaks the Human Heart (iv)

The heart is covered by a sheath
of fine fingered threads,
a gauze of nerves. Alternating currents
which work in consort, cusps of skin
that rudder the mechanical—open and close
close and open. Valve merchants
who barter in vigor exchanging old for new.
I lost the boy (the child with arrhythmia)
at the state fair. His mother and I still taste
that metallic hour, we searched frantically,
we prayed fervently. At dusk we found him
standing on the fringe, the out-most edge
of the midway behind the tents of barkers
and carnies. He said he had been listening
to the whispered fables of tattoos. Muscled
arms of naked women, secret codes on numbered
fists and flowers adorning midriffs; natural
soothsayers that spoke Igpay Atinlay.
We did not tell him after —how fearful
we became of the circus and the voices
of inanimate things (unsure of the classification
of drawings on skin). How thankful
we were of the denizens of impulses
that kept him secure—within our gate.

by Bebe Cook

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 15, October 2009

Artwork by Bebe Cook