Iconography of the Heart

We see it haunting lockets, cards,
carved into the breasts of trees
or fingered into fresh cement,
this shape of what does not exist:
two upside-down teardrops

fused at the ankles, their cries unheard.
In red cardboard, a vault for chocolates.
Synonym for affection at the end
of an erotic letter, soggy with lavender.
What everyone searches for

and promises, yet cannot recognize—
the engine that stretches in rain
or breaks like hopelessly precious china,
the pieces skittering across
the dull white floor of the ribcage.

But the heart is not symmetrical,
not an arrowhead angled safely down—
it’s a meaty crimson fist that swells
like a bladder, about to explode.
Like the part of the beast we discard

or a star a trillion miles away,
seen by us only after it goes nova,
casting itself in death across the wastes
in rainbow arcs of fire—something
we’ll wish upon, ages after it’s gone.

This is a reprint of work originally published in DIAGRAM.

Michael Meyerhofer’s fourth book, What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, was published by Split Lip Press. He is also the author of a fantasy series and the Poetry Editor of Atticus Review. His work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Rattle, Brevity, Tupelo Quarterly, Ploughshares, and many other journals. For more information and an embarrassing childhood photo, visit https://www.troublewithhammers.com.

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