The Lifetime of a Heart

by Alina Ying
Art by Jennifer Xu
Issue: Kalopsia (Spring 2017)

in warmwater, that center-churns and top-sizzles like golden butter,
river swishing and spitting in a child’s summer
hiding a boiling fervor underneath
…take a waxen step forward, sweet, take a look:
as the light butter-river at my throat softly folds into thoughts
washing me over: the pancakes of our childhoods, thick honey drizzling, smiling lips gulping down hot bites, hot hot hot!
as oozing sunshine gathers down
to pile sun-patterns over my dimpled grin, eyelashes, lips
i laugh as another funny thought flits through; mom would say don’t I look like i’m having so much fun! don’t I look like there are white-wings on my back like Icarus!
the water is so thick and nostalgic—
oh, boy, why don’t you just sun-kiss me! (mom, don’t tell me how deep this water goes!) and i’ll dance myself silly in lapping murkiness—
when i tell myself this is a crush, nothing more.
and because ring-fingers are always second in line (i wish not to sink),
i can only wrap myself in butterfly wings,
flitting around in the garden of Eden,
savoring the tale of innocent love!
so take the white wings over my heart, i’ll give it to you, go—
this is puppy-love, no more.

think robin-blue is the sky, autumn-leaves falling, heart tucked away—
I knew from the day we met
that I’d give my wings to you (though ringfingers were always second-in-line).
Your long, sly eyelashes slay the crisp air, grace the world and flattened against the fall wind, your fiendish, flyish hair mingles with young, chest-nutty breath.
I’m dancing in a whirl of autumnal colors, crunching acorns, painful smiles…
Oh, I’m wrapped in butterfly wings! and lost in the river of Eden—
take my life, and I would sing.
But this unrequited lovesickness—please make it go!

If you could only feel the weight of Atlas, the conqueror.
the ivory clouds pressing down, he bruising the fall-sky.
A growing heartache piling up like shriveled leaves: ten-fold, hundred-fold
body bowed, chin up. See—
now it is a weighty battle for love.
Let me tell you about my heart, dear!
A tiny, disintegrating bramble circles around it—
“Hail, King of Black Jealousy!”—
heartlessly scoring that four-quartered organ.
what pain! what falling humiliation!
Let me tell you about my heartstrings, beloved.
they twang like Eros’ bow, played
with a greedy arrow far-shot, far-seen.

I’m not selfless, I want you.
So let me tell you about my blood, sweet!
raining over me, a monsoon of
God’s selfless tears from Pishon crying forth.
tell me, teach me, how to be selfless.

tremble now and see
how gloomy it is to have come to this lonely winter.

And so my love plucks the lyres of heaven,
the chilly tones touching, tipping, tapping against
the cardiac organ that

half heartedly
amidst the snow, silently piling up and up and—

You’re not mine anymore.

And oh, how desperately the heart struggles against the striated connections—the milky-white, stringy muscle bonds—
of devilish, approaching death in all his wintry glory.

as the cold Acheron water flows through my soul, I know
infinitudes of snowflake fractals are frosting over the river,
frosting over my words, eyes, kisses
frosting over me.

(ringfingers were always second-in-line, I know)

it’s Valentine’s day,
I see the well-wisher card on my dresser
shaped like the curve of a baby-pink heart
with sweetheart, fresh, pink-and-white blooms by its side,
bursting into lovely perfumes as one of the flowers (a redder tulip), curls—
And I
tear, rip—
the sweet flower petal peel.
and my heart trembles with the flirtation of beat-to-life
almost like heart disease, heart death—God be with me—
in the midst of spring!

And as the music meanders in Pachelbel’s Canon, summer to fall to winter to spring, blood moves backward, time changes for Love (and second-in-line ringfingers), perhaps omnipotent God and Greek human-myths will lace themselves together, fate will beat down on you like a wet heart, leaving mixed confusions and complex thoughts of heavy Love and Life—and so finally, a toast: to remembering past deaths of the heart… and to living new loves!