February 18, 2016


Heather Morris is a cyborg librarian living in North Carolina. Her fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, and Bards & Sages Quarterly. This is her first published poem. You can find her at and on Twitter @NotThatHeatherM.

I keep my heart in a box
in a cool, dry place
Just like the instructions say:
it is dark, and quiet, and safe.

They say that you should take your heart out at least twice a year.
Give it a test drive, make sure everything still ticks properly.
But I don’t.
I have my reasons.

Many people keep their hearts on display.
Boutiques sell lacquered cases
with inspirational sayings, abstract designs.
Swarovski crystals are hot this year, or plastic rhinestones if you’re cheap.
But I just use an old shoe box,
one that once held platform Mary Janes.

There are newspapers crumpled up inside—
remember when we used to read newspapers?—
from August thirteenth, 1997
(there is no real significance, but I remember the date,
though I have not checked on my heart in a long, long time).

Girls dream of elaborate unboxing ceremonies at their weddings
and boys—well, I’ve never claimed to know what boys dream of in regards to their hearts.
But in any case, you’re supposed to keep yours close at hand
in case of accident or emergency.

I almost forgot mine once,
when I moved.
And sometimes I still wonder what the new tenant would have done
if they found my dusty shoebox,
stuck in the closet between old Christmas decorations and my second-best space heater.

Would he (let’s call him he) have tracked me down,
sent me a brown paper package with my heart packed in bubble wrap?
Or shown up on the doorstep of my new apartment with my heart cradled in his hands?
Or would he have tossed it in the dumpster with his flattened-out boxes,
leaving me to always wonder where the silly thing had gotten to?

It is an exercise in theory
because one of the movers found my heart on his last trip to the truck,
but sometimes I still wish I’d had the courage to leave it behind me.

I wish this for myself in the space between beats,
when the silence gives me such relief.

© Heather Morris


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