— Kristina H., “The Poem I Forgot to Write”

I don’t think anyone deserves more than one poem in a lifetime.

But look at you, darling—
I’m giving you two.

The first was a mess,
all crossed out words and
six different pens that ran out of ink
making words that I swore
I’d never let anyone see.

This time it’s different.

This time I’ve managed to get
the color of your heart just right—
an almost-blue that fades into white

at the center.

I imagine it beats something like four times a year,
ringing in the seasons and then falling silent until
another quarter of the year passes by.

The scary thing about time
is that you can’t ever recover from it.

It’s so easily lost
like spare change between the sofa cushions,
the ‘I love you’ on the phone that always manages
to get swallowed up in static

and all the words of the dead that never get written down;
how all the spare paper in the world wouldn’t be enough to shape
their decayed vocal chords.

So it’s easy to take this for granted,
to take time and cradle it, you, in my arms
like a newborn or the book I just purchased

where I imagine your name in place of the hero’s
more times than I even care to count
and making you out to be someone who’s going to save me,
like any of us ever choose to be someone else’s savior

especially
when we can’t even look at ourselves properly in the mirror.

I’d like to think that you’ll surprise me,
but I know we both know how I’ll choose to bury you.

I’ll end up writing about you in letters to my grandchildren and
tell them all about the man with the seasonal heart
and how his heartbeat, for me, was the album of the year.
 
Maybe that will be enough to save me in the end:
a selection of songs that I can sing along to,
that can be memorized by heart.