by Laura Villareal
The only thing sensible about the heart is its
shoes. When the heart is sent away from
it only takes a small brown suitcase filled with air—
the reason is unclear, but like I said, the only thing sensible
about the heart is its little white sneakers. Every heart starts
out like this—with pristine shoes that stay that way until
it’s sent out into the world, because the heart is accustomed to being
carried. Every heart is sent away from the body eventually
to live with a new person for a while. Just to check things out.
The new person learns that the heart melts a little
when it’s given coffee in the morning & how it likes its
fruit to be cut instead of eating it whole & that it swallows
its pomegranate seeds & that it can’t sing in
key. This heart has no rhythm.
Or the heart’s needs are neglected & it rubs its little shoes in the dirt
waiting for promises to be fulfilled. Some hearts are
twisted for the fun of it. Some are left blindfolded
in the trunk
of an Oldsmobile somewhere in Nevada.
If the person the heart stays with is good & kind,
the heart will send a telegram home & ask its body to come join
them. But if that’s not the case, then the heart must walk
It trips and falls a lot since hearts are top heavy. Its little
shoes get covered in brown dust & fill with water when it rains.
The heart gets lost a lot on the way back, because it doesn’t know how
to ask for directions or receive help. Eventually the heart makes it
home, a bit bruised—sometimes a little worse for wear or addled.
But I’ve never heard of a heart that didn’t make it back.
If the heart makes this trip enough times, it will trade up for black
boots. But not always. Sometimes the heart wears the soles off its sneakers,
lets the white stay brown, & puts duct tape over the holes.
I want to tell you all hearts find good homes
eventually. I want to tell you they’re all taken care of forever.
I want to tell you that the body treats the heart well
when it comes home after its long journey. But the truth is,
the heart’s body inflicts wounds worse than any other person
could. So I hope someday I find my heart’s boots abandoned at a
museum full of dinosaur bones. The heart’s suitcase left butterflied in a small town.
I hope when I call its name it never answers.
Laura Villareal earned her MFA from Rutgers University-Newark. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in AGNI, Black Warrior Review, Waxwing, and elsewhere. She has received scholarships and fellowships from National Book Critics Circle, Bucknell University’s Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts, Key West Literary Seminar, and The Highlights Foundation. More of her writing can be found at www.lauravillareal.com.