Even as a girl I knew the heart was not a valentine;
it was wet, like a leopard frog on a lily pad,
had long tube roots
anchoring it in place.
And smaller roots like lupine and marigold
and bleeding hearts’ roots I traced with my finger
while transplanting in the garden.
Jesus had a thousand bloody hearts
planted in our flowerbeds beneath pink flowers;
they could see us through the ground.
I had a book about a girl who lived in the earth
near the tree roots, who cut off her finger
and used it as a key. I wondered if I could love like that.
I studied the painting of His chest peeled back
to show light around the Sacred Heart.
And in the bedroom at my grandmother’s where I slept
against the trees, I was the spirit
inside the room’s heart, my life inside me,
something that could leave through the window quietly.
I heard the fibrous closing and closing
inside my body and prayed to stay alive.