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Heartbeat Poem

for My Sister

Alexis Wilson

Your breath is soft in warm spring air, dad’s green van,

clumsy keys in the pocket of frayed jeans.

I have memorized these long car rides with dad,

feet kicked up on the dash (no seatbelt).

The junkyard Chevy lies restless in Minnesota mid-winter.

heart, keys, jeans; heart, keys jeans; heart, keys, jeans.


Love is exposed on the table just after open heart surgery

(our brother’s, do you remember?).

At midnight on December twelfth I will wake and remember

dad's van gone, buried with his bad heart.

Parts and pieces which bleed when squeezed,

break when touched.


Somewhere is the morgue tag with our father’s name.

Somewhere is your spring song,

the hand that pulled me over alligator grates.

Somewhere are candy-wrappers, bowls licked clean,

glow of a nightlight, bunk bed squeal.

Somewhere are the graphed lines of a beating heart:

ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum


hazy and soft beneath a dying pulse, heart that just don’t work.

My hands fit clumsily on the steering wheel rubber,

trace a circle which turns

and turns; I have lost these spring songs, jean threads,

sunlight which turns to milk.

In the quiet, I search the glovebox,

watch the footprints on a silent dash

glow red beneath a stoplight.

Alexis Wilson is currently a student studying creative writing at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. Her hobbies include reading and writing which she has loved since she was young. Her poetry has appeared in Elan Literary Magazine and has been previously awarded a silver key in the Regional Art and Writing Awards.

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