heart :: margaret atwood

Some people sell their blood. You sell your heart.
It was either that or the soul.
The hard part is getting the damn thing out.
A kind of twisting motion, like shucking an oyster,
your spine a wrist,
and then, hup! it’s in your mouth.
You turn yourself partially inside out
like a sea anemone coughing a pebble.
There’s a broken plop, the racket
of fish guts into a pail,
and there it is, a huge glistening deep-red clot
of the still-alive past, whole on the plate.

It gets passed around. It’s slithery. It gets dropped,
but also tasted. Too coarse, says one. Too salty.
Too sour, says another, making a face.
Each one is an instant gourmet,
and you stand listening to all this
in the corner, like a newly hired waiter,
your diffident, skillful hand on the wound hidden
deep in your shirt and chest,
shyly, heartless.

From Asian Literary Review, Volume 12, Summer 2009

Advertisements