Not one more figure of speech, I promise, not here, under the pressing weight of centuries of metaphors insisting on the heart's unbelievable resemblance to anything else we know. One more could finally break it irretrievably, and I don't want that kind of metaphorical blood on my hands. So this time around, let the heart be the heart the surgeon discovers when he lays open the chest so gently it's easy to miss the self-effacing beauty of precision, the way he comes at it directly, the only way he knows. And the heart, exposed exactly for what it is: homelier than we'd like to imagine. And alive beyond compare. Here, the heart is the heart, and isn't a fist or a flower or a smooth-running engine and especially not one of those ragged valentines someone's cut out, initialed, shot full of cartoon arrows: the adolescent voodoo of desire. Here nothing's colored that impossibly red. There's nothing cute about it. The heart is the heart, chamber after chamber. Ventricular. Uncooked. In all its sanguine glory. I couldn't make up a thing like that. The heart's perfected its daily making do, the sucking and pumping, its mindless work: sustaining a blood supply that's got to go around a lifetime. Sure, there's a brain somewhere, another planet just seconds or light-years away, and maybe some far-flung intelligence madly signalling for all it's worth-- but the heart wouldn't know about that. It has its own evidence to go on. What's convincing to the heart is only the heart. It doesn't have the luxury of stopping to weigh, to reconsider, to fold and unfold the raw data of the world until it's creased beyond recognition. Some days it can't distinguish a single sad note from a chorus of exhilaration, but still the heart has its one answer down to a science: yes. Over and over, that iambic uh-huh. Whatever it takes, some kind of nerve or unlikely grace: the heart never knows what to think. * * * If this poem has had its moments already when I haven't been quite as good as my word-- when the heart's been anything less than the heart or even the tiniest bit more--believe me, I've tried hard to keep the heart in its proper place for once. It's not in my mouth or on my sleeve or winging its way lightheartedly in circles over my head. It's more or less right where it belongs inside of me, no small thing. And not to mention love even once by its own name, Patricia: that's a proposition I never meant to enter into, anywhere. So when you turn out the light and this page goes as dark as the room you're lying down in and for one night at least there are no more distractions, it's my heart you'll be listening to. And it's yours. We fit together so well sometimes it's not easy telling whose lips, whose arms, whose heat in the groin, whose very good idea. I'm not taking any chances bigger than the one you've given me--your insistent heart mixed up with mine: uh-huh, uh-huh, huh-huh, and my heart has never been the heart it is right now. It's what we've both been waiting for: I'm asking you to make of it what you surely will, to take it from here, in your love beyond these imperfect words, please take it wherever you're going tonight from here.