The Heart Has No Limit, Says a Friend Trying to Comfort Me
The heart has no limit, and that’s why it won’t be quiet.
I’ve shut mine in a drawer at night like a pincushion
next to the paring knife. It was still there in the morning.
I’ve placed mine like a stone to wedge a door that had no lock,
and when someone forced the door, the thing lost
just one layer of skin. That was a quick little scalping.
This is the same heart that, when I stretch my limbs
across a grave like that tarp, like that Astroturf carpet,
I hear only its beating. The chirping of birds. The distant
whir from a big yellow digging machine.
In a moment of weakness, I’ll ask the heart how many beats
before it releases the twenty-one grams of my soul, the last
slow exhale. It will say it never heard of clock or calendar.
It will say, sagely, do not meditate on death. It has already
chosen the outfit I’ll wear in my coffin.
And when I try to place a curse on the limitless thing,
prod and poke and punch till it bleeds from the throat,
blind it by showing it an eclipse directly,
give it tinnitus, that constant, cruel ringing in the ears, kick it
swollen, keep it awake longer than the six-day threshold
that kills lab rats—it won’t budge.
And after those beatings, it begs to be indulged,
to be taken to extremes. At a hundred miles per hour,
its engine still purrs. It runs red lights and toll booths.
Even when its cards are weak, it doubles down and calls
all bets. Yes, it gambles with blank checks it stole
from me. It drinks past last call, then heads to a bathhouse
to sleep it off. It lingers a long time at the glory holes.
I have asked the heart about its brittle skeleton,
its history of broken bones. Does it feel safe at home?
Do the fights ever get physical? No, I’m just clumsy,
the heart always says. And once we establish this
intimacy, I find it quite willing to call me
daddy, to be tied up, to be spit on and fucked
in a sling. It says I will gladly fling myself
into the filthy river. As if that would solve anything.
Read more of Anthony DiPietro’s poetry.
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