Has anyone ever told you that you have a heart murmur?
I shake my head, swallow dust, and stare at a poster of bones.
Well, you do. But don’t worry about it.
How do I tell someone I have never not worried about anything in my entire life?
Heart, you are my hardest-working organ.
Inside me, a valve pulses open-close-open-close, mumbles beneath its breath,
clamors to be heard like the pounding of hooves against packed earth.
Five liters of blood pump through from toe to brain,
each cell a messenger horse carrying a blank letter.
Four weeks ago at the cape, he held me at water’s edge.
He told me if this is to end, let it end in a sunset.
The moment was so littoral I wanted to laugh, or scream, or both,
and a side stitch panged at me like a boxer delivering a sucker punch to my waist,
drawing the air from my lungs into polluted atmosphere.
Heart, you are a closed fist, but my palms are always open.
A pig’s aorta keeps my grandmother’s eighty-five-year-old body alive,
its length stretching from left ventricle to abdomen like a bendable straw.
Just once, I think I see my future.
Just once, I want to be clean.
Inside me, a quiet sound pounds soft as a horse’s nose.
Doctor, does the heart murmur when it’s made a mistake?
Alix Wood was raised by two mothers on Anna Maria Island, Florida. At the University of Vermont, she was the editor-in-chief of Vantage Point, the school's literary and art magazine. Her work has also previously been published in Vantage Point. This is her first professional publication. Alix currently lives in Vermont and works at a tea house.