Size / / /

Content warning:

I don't have a quiet heart. These
hollow chambers clang and echo

when so much as a penny
is dropped in.

The neighbors peer inside me and tut.

"Try filling it with earth," one says.

"So it can grow things instead of making that—"

wince "—noise."

"Nah," another says. "Go with grain.
You can sustain anyone
with a heart of grain."

"No," my mother says. Ear pressed to my chest,
she counts in time to the chambers’ moans.

"Fill it with salt water, so that only
those who thrive there may stay."

And who would that be—a tropical fish?
I wonder. But obedience comes naturally.

With a heavy jug, I fill my heart three-quarters full.

(Salt stings too much to fill it to the brim.)

The neighbors groan.

"It's still too loud—and now
she can't even drink from it."

Shhh, I say, listening
for the tide as it sloshes
inside me. Ocean water cools

this hot blood.

Waves give these echoes
and clangs of mine

a rhythm.

Maddie Phelps is an English and Strategic Communication student at the University of Minnesota.  After Maddie graduates this spring, they hope to use their experience in non-profit development and communications at an organization focused on health, disability, gender and sexuality, or sexual violence.
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