"The Woman Whose Husband Finds Heart-shaped Stones" - Jim Papworth

They pulse and throb and wait for him,
in the dirt, in piles, in streams, on hillsides,
and once one waited
its whole rock-heart-life for him
on a fence post
near Cody, Wyoming,
who knows, maybe hundreds of years.

She held one up
at the podium where she spoke
to make sure we understood
and even from the thirteenth pew
I could see it.
I could feel it beating in her hand.
I could hear him calling her name
as the door closed behind him
at 11:00 pm, the heart in his hand,
and she knew it was coming with him
through the door.

And I believed. I wanted to rise
and walk forward, wanted to stand at the podium
and bear witness of the heart-shaped-rock,
to say from where I sat I could feel it
beating in her hand. But when I looked
down the rows, pew after pew,
people had their heads down,
some texted or held their iPods,
a few of the older ones slept.

Days now, and regret. Nothing from the pulpit
had turned my own heart like this:
The ten commandments, Joshua and Jericho,
staffs parting water, Mother and Father
creating the world, animals, birdsong,
the Book of Eli. Nothing.

And slowly something hard and cold
takes shape in my chest, and it will get, I know,
so heavy, that one day soon
it will drop its way through my bowels,
and when they come to drag me away,
it will lie in the dirt waiting.


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