Repaying Debts

…But some debts are worth paying…

There was a heart on my doorstep today,
I nearly tripped over it as I was leaving the house
Hidden amongst the dead leaves that gather
About the threshold, a small, bright thing
Slightly tarnished, red like a sunburnt strawberry
Lines and swirls of blue black running through it
A few cracks and chips, still
One heart, well used.

I bent to pick it up, it was slick beneath my fingers
Trembling like a starling in my palm
Wriggling like the tadpoles I used to catch
Fitting entirely into my fist
Throbbing gently, pulse hitting the off beats
I put it in my bag, carefully, letting it find a nest
Between notebooks and pens
Then I went about my day.

At first, I put up a few signs
“Lost heart found on doorstep
Missing a few bits but in mostly good condition
Will be kept well till claimed”
Yet no one came, which I found odd,
Since it was a nice little heart
Good rhythm, strong, the kind of heart
That gets songs about it.

I found myself holding it, it made me feel better
We’d watch movies together in the dark
And it would glow so sweetly
At the sappy bits, it made me smile
It was a comfort on the bad days
It would light up under the blankets when I had them
Pulled over my head to shut out everything else,
Calmed my ragged, desperate gasping,
It seemed to make all the hurt go away.

One day, I saw this sad, crumpled face
Waiting in the rain at the bus stop
Grey like all the color was washing away
A blurry, faded streak of ache and empty
So that your eyes hurt trying to hold on to it,
Someone trying so desperately hard
To vanish into themselves, let the pain swallow them whole
Every last shred and morsel.

I don’t know why, but I became
The shadow’s shadow, following behind
Dodging behind dustbins and parked cars,
Lingering in the dark corners, furtive as a mouse
Wandering lonely streets till at last
We reached a door as lonely as the hand
Fumbling with the keys, faded lime and jagged white
No light spilling onto the pavement
Just a dusty, drab umbral brown
Reaching out thin tendrils that wrapped around wrist.

Even the close of the latch refused to echo
The clack a bare whisper
Finger to the lips hushing, lest someone hear
I stood a while in the street under a light
That flickered, sickly, wan, a rhythmic
Lost, feeling the grayness leaching into my bones
Spreading from the doorway
Turning everything to flaking and brittle
I knew what I had to do.

It hurt a bit, digging my fingers up under my ribs
But it was only a bit and I’ve been hurt worse
Hurt myself more, others certainly
So I could stand the pain.
My heart came out the color of rust
Wrapped in barbed wire, glowing like coal
Smoky and orange
It might do the trick, just maybe
I left it on the doorstep, smoldering
Could see it for blocks until I turned the corner.

I still have the other one, the small, sweet heart
I took the time to glue it up
Gave it a bit of polish, its shine matches its slickness now
And its grown a bit, not enough to fit the hollow.
I think about my heart now and then
I hope it was enough
I hope they didn’t cut themselves too deep
On the ragged edges and that the fire
Keeps them warm, brings back a little color
A little light…

What can I say, one heart for another
Some debts are just worth paying.


One Response to “Repaying Debts”

  1. exciting new flavour!

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