Marianne Paul is a Kitchener writer. A recent winner of the Waterloo Region Arts Council's WRAconteur Poetry award, she is a founding member of Dove Tale Press, a writers' collective. Besides writing, she has a passion for rivers and kayaking, but not winter.

Monday's Poem

© Marianne Paul


the heart is a muscle
nestled between the lungs
slightly to the left
of the chest centre
keeps us off-

nestled is a word for birds
not the heart

the heart is protected
by the sternum at the front
spinal column at the back—
physically, that is                 for how
do you protect the heart?

build your walls of breastbone
i suppose

the body has its ways
first a cage of calcium and then
a membrane shell
the heart's outer layer
the pericardium
thick-skinned and tough
to pierce

left ventricle right ventricle
left atrium right atrium
four chambers of the heart
four is the number of perfection
four cardinal directions
north south east west
four directions of the cross

the septum separates
the left side                from the right
as if the heart cannot bear itself
its own cross to bear

the balance is deceptive
there is always a weaker
always a stronger
the left ventricle has the thickest walls
pumps blood to poetic places       arterioles
and arteries and veins and venules and capillaries
the voyage of the heart         the river
of blood vessels
stretches 60,000 miles
the right atrium has the thinnest walls
of the four chambers              it is the place
of vulnerability                     

                   100,000 beats
a day 365 million beats a year
valves slamming shut
gushing open
the heart is not a place
for the faint-hearted

a normal heart makes two sounds
lubb and dupp [really]
the abnormal heart clicks, snaps, whooshes
murmurs               sighs
                          disorders of the heart

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