Friday, June 8, 2012

Your Heart At Rest

You can't just plop your heart on the table every day, prod it with a fork, and expect it to give up its secrets. It can't be shoved or bullied, and has never stood for interrogations.

It speaks when it's good and ready, and when it has something to say. There's no small talk in it, and when it does finally speak –and  it speaks less and less often-- you can be certain it will tell you the truth, and that truth may either move or bruise you. It is also capable --and you fear this-- of shattering you.

Your heart's stock in trade has always been simple, declarative sentences, but it is also capable, from time to time, of really carrying on, of railing, of delivering the occasional surprising and stirring exhortation, harangue, or passionate monologue. It is not afraid of giving you a good dressing down whenever it feels like it's required.

Whatever it says, though, it is always clear that the sentences have been a long time building, word by word, each word carefully mulled and weighed.

One night, you recall, after your heart had been for many days entirely silent, it spoke quietly from its ochre velvet cushion next to the alarm clock on the bed stand. Your heart and the alarm clock have a touching and clearly affectionate relationship.

It was very late, after three a.m., and you had inserted earplugs and the fan was blowing. You were reading a collection of E.B. White's essays.

When your heart spoke it spasmed almost imperceptibly in place, and the lamplight that had settled on its moist, lacquered-looking surface trembled. You took out your earplugs and asked your heart to repeat itself.

"I hope you realize," it said in its odd and familiar baritone croak, "that I am capable of doing just as much damage at rest as in motion."

"And are you now at rest or in motion?" you asked.

"What the fuck does it look like?" your heart said. "What does it feel like to you?"

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