The Hungry Heart

– for Nikky Finney and Jane Hirshfield

How was I to know there would be
an earthquake? I put on a soft new
black cardigan and went to work,
deciding I’d get the groceries
in the afternoon instead of
during my lunch break.

And how was I to know
he’d stop at a local bar
for drink after drink
then buy a used car, sight
unseen, squandering money
from our loan installment?

And how is anyone to know
when the month of muscled
flesh and feasting turns
into years of chemical
transfusions, of sharply
chiseled bones?

Once I witnessed a toddler
wake from the sleep induced
by a spate of seizures to say,
in a perfectly articulated
sentence, that she was
exceedingly hungry.

Once I knew a woman
who lay in a coma for half
a decade, then one day
sat up in bed, blinked
her eyes open, then asked
for a long drink of water.

Who knows when the slow
seconds catch up to the hour,
when misery decides it wants to eat
another kind of bread, when the herd
of stubborn anxieties finally
agrees to be led into the barn?

I also desire a homecoming, a waiting
bed with the familiar outline of my body,
the mat with strands of my hair and flakes
shed from my skin. And also I wish
that for such things, the price asked
of the hungry heart will not be so dear.

One Reply to “The Hungry Heart”

  1. I LOVE THIS ONE! Such great lines…. especially “when misery decides it wants to eat/ another kind of bread, and the image of strands of hair and flakes of skin in the bed. A winner. Thanks!

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