HOW TO SWALLOW A HEARTBEAT

Howl the dust out of hollows
            in a wind-carved clavicle, 
the earth from nail bed hallelujah

Howl three fingers across a sepia globe
            scratch its glossy skin
and accept that rivers flower.

Trace every sunrise like a vein, a pulley, let it
            drop you every sundown
because that’s the natural order, the law
            of this physical realm 

that presses your jaw so tightly
            to tectonic overture that its pulse, 
its rhythm shakes loose the dusts
            of your teeth down your throat

Presses you so tightly that
            the equal opposite force of your lips
is permanent as the first time 

the maple wood shook
            snow from her hair and said, no—

this isn’t dying, yet. 

 

DIVINATION

It takes a long time
sitting still as a blade

to see it: the wide, flat
palm of a red maple.
A canopy knit like a lost mitten
throws a net of shadow
on your shoulders. 

It takes a long time
dirt steeped in wind walls
to remember that power
to turn worlds
on the small white squares
of your hands. 

It takes me seventy years, 
I think, on the small grooves
of my knees, to feel the pulse

of a root. 

Invisible, unjustified— 
I’m told, it isn’t there. 

It takes one hundred years, 
I’m certain, to carve the hope
under my eyes like upside down
umbrellas, purple and blue

where you pressed
            thumbtacks
into malar bones

It takes me seven hundred
fifty years, stirring skeletons
and twigs and laughter,
to see the coral reef come back
to life, the sea turtles and the
bees and the will to carve
hollows into my bones
so I can fly. 

It takes me eighty-five
lifetimes, the wrinkles
setting out beneath my nose
like an a-line skirt, like a curtsey, 
like roots, like grounding, like reaching
into the earth just to feel the invisible
electromagnetism of my breath, 
like the hula hoop slide of the tides, 
to hear the wild, quiet laughter
of a forest and understand it isn’t meant
           to be put down,
either.


AJ WOLFF is a midwest feminist, poet, mother. She's in love with great lakes and stubborn eyes. Her work has been recently hosted in Hypertrophic Literary, The Mantle, Yes Poetry, Parentheses, Rust + Moth, and other beautiful publications