What you said I shattered was the window
but we both know what you meant. I can't
recall a single meadow that didn't slow my pulse.
Though you are far you are on my wing: you
are the sight of an apple in the bathroom
or oils unintended for a wood floor. A fence
ran the length of a field, between two trees
so that, in snow, it looked like stitches
or a fallen rope ladder. Did you know
that three hundred years ago the heart was
a furnace? At this point what else can I do
but follow the precedent I've established?
Choose one of the following: at Monticello,
the turnips gave me a toothache, or at Red
Hook, the red bees. Will you laugh if I say, I
beat my heart into a red caul of sentences?
Near the pond I lifted a rock and found life
under it crowded with so many urges. To see
if it's possible to dig a grave, today I took
a shovel to the field. It is possible and surprisingly
easy to dig a grave! Over coffee, on the phone,
I said to you, it took trillions to prop up
the markets, but what I wanted to say was, I have
beaten my heart into a red caul of sentences.
About this poem
"Bury or free it? Doctors once thought the heart warmed our bodies by burning blood, and so if we were overheating, if our humors were off-balance, bloodletting was necessary; thus, the employment of leeches or surgeon-barbers with some fantastic tools like the scarificator and the fleam."
About Robert Ostrom
Robert Ostrom is the author of "The Youngest Butcher in Illinois" (YesYes Books, 2012). He teaches at New York City College of Technology and Columbia University, and lives in Ridgewood, N.Y.
The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day[at]poets.org.
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(c) 2014 Robert Ostrom. Originally published by the Academy of American Poets, www.poets.org. Distributed by King Features Syndicate