How to Dismantle a Heart
My mother used to say the heart makes music, but I've never found the keys. Maybe it's the way I was brought into the world: dragged across a river in the night's quiet breathing, trampling through trash and tired runaways as if tearing a window's curtains. We were barred from entry but repeatedly returned, each time becoming a darker part of a tunnel or a truck bed. The sky was so still the stars flickered like carbide lamps. We told time through the landmarks of the dead like cataphiles—the warren of a little girl’s murder, the wolf’s irrigation pipe. When you see enough unwinding, beating is replaced by the safety of wings. This isn't goodness. The voiceless are never neutral. Bones sway to elegy. Ebony burrows into the earth as a refugee. I grew up, eventually, but the sun was like a cliff with a false bottom: you'd drop and come out the top again. Enough carcasses draped over the dry brush. Enough water towers empty as busted rattles. When you're a child, the heart has a stiff neck and demands to be played. Later, it limps. Before my knees could begin to ache, I crawled to the levee looking for a broken string. Some wayward zil. I stretched my heart over a manhole and drummed it with broken pliers. It wouldn’t even quaver. It snapped back into a seed, dry and shriveled and blank.
Copyright © 2018 by Rodney Gomez. This poem originally appeared in Citizens of the Mausoleum (Sundress Publications, 2018). Used with permission of the author.
Rodney Gomez is the author of Ceremony of Sand, forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2019, and Citizens of the Mausoleum (Sundress Publications, 2018), as well as several chapbooks. He’s the winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize, the Gloria E. Anzaldúa Poetry Prize, and the Rane Arroyo Chapbook Prize. A member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop and the Chocholichex writing collective, he serves as an editor at Latino Book Review and works at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Date Published: 2018-08-21
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/how-dismantle-heart