The ER Staff Listens to My Heart and Me (Cantos, 2019)

I tell them it’s a flutter
(because that’s what I hear on TV),
but it’s less Monarch, more bee
that swarms before death—then leaves.

Or maybe my chest is an elevator shaft
with a car packed full of children who
press each button to see the lights, hear the dings
until the cable snaps and they plummet.

My fear pushes the first beads of sweat out
and I’ve stepped out of the shower onto
an electric bathmat, where I feel the surge
in each hair in my pits and around my nipples.

I explain that I get how the astronauts feel
when they drift, weightless, and look down at
home, knowing some bad math here, the pull
of the wrong lever there pushes them
into eternal orbit.

But mostly, I say, I know what it’s like to be lonely—
that when the end comes, we search our
hearts only to find each chamber empty.