There is no heartbeat, 
no drummer in your chest 
to tell you the imaginary
butterflies mean this is it
No, the heart is a fist,

wrapped in blood 
and a pericardium that can 
swell, which feels similar,
but not identical, 
to physiologic response 
when your little girl gets off the bus 
helping a boy get past the crowd,
the one 
with the uncorrected harelip—

(which is no hare, and 
little lip) who no one 
speaks to except to taunt 
with fish faces—

and your Sally tells you 
she doesn’t like those other kids 

Yes, this swelling sensation, 
your chest filling, is different 
(referred and somatic) from 
an overworked 
muscle of a mother's heart, 
a simple in-out pump 
that will kill you, eventually, if it grows,
or softens,
or hardens.

Your eyes water, and 
Sally blurs—but really 
she, and life, turn 
upside down after hitting 
your retina and the iris tightens 
the window of your face—

what your husband says
he noticed when he first laid 
eyes on you—

is a cluster of radial and 
circular muscles, 
the only ones to grow​
​weaker with use. Your time 

to see is always ticking, but not 
like the heart. You are only 
hearing valves—one shaped 
like a bishop's mitre, others

which push open, close, flutter 
with the flood 
of disc-shaped cells, packed— 
no nucleus, no room 
for your genes in blood.

Yes, Sally can stand up
and have integrity, 
she got that from you, 
but not where you think. 
It’s not her spine she’s using, 
the backbone 
you accuse Sally’s father 
of lacking—

He can't say no 
to the contracts, shaft
everyone but the
top, Going with his Gut, his
Instinct, he says, not knowing
that hypothalamic instinct
lasts beyond 
conscious conscience—

No, your spine, 
and Sally’s, 
is a feather, delicate 
and softer than a horse's 
tail, and your cauda equina 
stops growing, 
stops you from sensing, 
leaving you up against 
the Right, and the Understood.

MOLLY LURIE-MARINO's writing has been in The Rumpus, Up the Staircase Quarterly, PANK, and Big Lucks, among others. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, where she embraces her affection towards science, technology, medicine, and the arts. 

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