I heard from my heart today.
What language did she speak in?
I think it was the language of whales.
She didn’t speak often but when she did
it was like she was underwater,
in different parts,
in different currents of the ocean.
My old friend, and I hardly know her,
scarcely imagined she would speak to me like that,
steady, constant, sometimes no more than a grumble,
but you can’t blame a heart for that.
Last year when she spoke I wouldn’t listen,
only remember the sight of her, working away.
And I turned away, unable to bear that sight of her,
no more than a fist opening and closing,
puny as a fish pursing its muscular mouth.
The actors I saw on television one day
spoke to me of Shakespeare,
how the rhythm of him
matched the beat of the human heart.
Whose heart? I wondered, tattooed in iambs
five bells to a thump,
or was this only for
not for cruising whales.
Why was I there lying on a table
while a woman named Amina
attached electrodes to my chest,
and worked her pen over me,
writing my poem on her chart.
And all the while, steadily, defiantly, the gist of it:
a raised fist, opened, and just as firmly closed.
So everything depends on it.
That drama on the screen,
that poetry of whales,
that grumble of my servant heart.