Poem: My Next Heart by Janet McNally

My Next Heart
by Janet McNally

1.
Next time, make my heart paper.
Origami, perhaps: translucent, sharp-cornered,

recyclable. When I’m done, I’ll press it flat
and tuck it inside

a grocery bag. A man will come to the curb
and haul it away.

Look, miracle. No more flesh, no
secret language

of rhythm and thump. Just folds
and corners and a knife-edge

crease: a perfect little machine
that does nothing.

Girl-quiet, bright
liar, you’d never know

what kind of physics
is buzzing inside.

2.
Next time, make my heart
sailcloth, hemmed

with racing stripes. Stretch it
triangular and I’ll sleep

the flat, soaring sleep of the albatross:
weeks at a time, sun blinking

on and off like a Christmas bulb. Blue dark,
white light, black ocean. I’ll dream

updraft and downdraft and skim
over fog. I’ll know the risks, and I won’t care:

a sailcloth heart might glide away
before I’m done with it. All it takes

is one breath to get it started.
Things can go so far on their own.

 
Janet McNally

McNally’s poetry collection Some Girls won the 2014 White Pine Press Poetry Prize. Her young adult novel Girls in the Moon, about sisters, mothers, daughters and an iconic 90s rock band, is forthcoming from HarperCollins. janetmmcnally.com

This poem originally appeared in the Future issue. For more inspiring stories dealing with the future, check out Apocalypse Then: The Positive Side of Exploring Dystopia and No Great Women Artists: A Lesson to Be Learned.

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