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Primal Heart

Primal Heart

(From Within My Illusions)

For a brief glimpse of time,

she was just the right size

for me to hold in one arm.

My fingers nested

her down-covered head,

the heel of my hand rested

in the fold of a neck

not strong enough to support

a skull still forming.

The pulse of her primal heart

beat into my wrist.

I could balance her spine along

the length of my forearm

while her pelvis folded into

the bend of my elbow.

Without a swaddle,

her legs cascaded down.

Her arms grasped the air

in disjointed bursts.

Naked, she had no choice but to trust,

had not yet learned of dread

or betrayal

or loss.

No one had warned her of risk,

nor cloaked her in stories of

big bad wolves,

wicked witches,

and golden-haired girls

who steal porridge

when no one is looking.

My daughter looked at me with night-black eyes

and a mouth that was convincing enough

for me to say she was smiling.

Most would have said it was just a reflex.

Her eyes released the latch of a window

in my heart that I thought I had sealed shut.

The one that introverted me within a shell

of me, myself, and I’s, insulated from lows and highs,

forgetting that depths of despair have equal

and opposite peaks of joy, and that both

are evidence of my human experience.

The one that contented me with complacency

rather than testing the extent of my resiliency.

But I didn’t come here to tiptoe

around the edges of being,

to rest comfortably, halfway

between fear and desire,

suffering and awe.

And neither did she.

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