Published on Academy of American Poets (

At night, by marriage:

Here is how I control my heart: I string each thought one behind the next, like beads.

I wear the answers I am waiting to give. The jewelry becomes heavy as soil.

My long blink is a scream & a yes. There are things I have to say, but they do not yet know the questions they must ask. & a blink is no word; if they misunderstand—

A heart is just soil. Ask anyone. A heartbeat is a blink. A long blink is a scream. A longer blink is sleep. All night I am screaming.


Copyright © 2015 by Lisa Ciccarello. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 28, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“This poem was inspired by a folk tale, the specifics of which I’ve long since forgotten, which included a woman paralyzed by magic. I love the brief and strangely dispassionate nature of folk tales for providing a space in which to project imagined experiences, as here, where I approach the claustrophobic and harrowing feeling of being trapped within one’s own body.”
Lisa Ciccarello


Lisa Ciccarello

Lisa Ciccarello is the author of At Night (Black Ocean Press, 2015). She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Date Published: 2015-04-28

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