Hastily posted (though thoughtfully written beforehand) from a train stopped briefly in a city station…
In bed before sleeps comes, I sometimes lay my head in such a way that I can hear my heartbeat clearly, feel it in my ears. I begin to count and get to ten before I balk and turn over, unable to remain so close to this core. In the dark with no other senses active, it is disconcerting to be so aware that life has a solid source, and unlike when I lay on my lover’s chest, I don’t find in my own breast a reassuring sound.
I am uneasy, queasy in the way I get when I’m around exposed clock works, when the back is popped off and I realize how precious and precise are the delicate wheels and gears, so fearfully handled, dismantled with little more than a breath.
I have no evidence that anything is amiss, no substance for this doubt, and as far as my mind can see, my heart has never not been here sounding out. But I also know from watching others fail, that this rhythm stretching back before me and my mind both will someday find itself fading. I fear in the dark that it will all wear out, wind down then and there, leaving me steeped in silence while I slowly cease to be. And so, I concretely come to know my own fragile silences, those evenly-spaced in-betweens, poised pauses charged with potential for life but giving nothing close to a guarantee.
In this way, the act of listening seems to me a test of fate, a faithless trespass only serving to dare the nerves to shock the system into shut down mode. Or, I wonder, why notice now? Why in this moment do I finally find myself hearing what is always there? Is something subtly wrong, out of sync, like how you only really see the sky if you’re looking up at looming clouds, or only at the sun gone red, dying with the day.
So, at this day’s end, I press my hand into my chest, will it all to keep going even knowing that I have such a very small part to play in every pulse, pound, pound, pound, without, against, despite my consent, and though the awful power to decide my heart’s early end may be in my hands in any given moment, if early is when it will end on its own, I will have no say at all, no way or will or hand to make it pump again.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine.
The rhythm of my heart. And the ringing in my ears. It’s the rhythm of the southbound train…