Open Heart

I’m opening my heart, it isn’t messy, not at all, small for its size, the cropped chambers and dark red arteries ending in capped cross sections smooth on the outside, it hardly weighs anything.  I’m in a long hall with grey metal windows on one side, and the milky lamp on the wall is round, as on a ship, the floor covered with thick rubber, spongy, as on a ship.  On the wall butterflies labeled pearl crescent, childsplay, tieclip, brimstone, red admiral are pinned to the wall, their wings open, like a form of disclosure.  At the end of the hall I sit on a bed under a round lamp lipped like a helmet, touching the small mole on my cheek.  I’m a little lighter on the left side.  My shirt is unbuttoned, and there is a gown under it, thin and blue, printed “property of Maimonides”—according to Maimonides it is better to give without being asked, better to give everything than to give willingly, better still to give sufficiently and without hesitation.  My heart is on my lap like a small pet—they are sitting around me, the ones I love, when they lay their hands on my heart, pressing in, it is compressed, or reduced, like dried fruit, concentrated but with a more intense flavor.

-Peter Leight