I am not a dancer, baker, or poet.
So, for want of greater skill, I took a pinch of my heart, tucked it into a dab of clay, and rolled it into a ball.
I did this again, and again, and again, until I reached into my chest with sticky red fingers to discover I had used my heart all up.
I sat and contemplated why I had thought that was a good idea in the first place – tucking pieces of my heart into pockets of mud, until my heart was spent. Oh, I have been such a silly fool, I thought, and now I am undone! For, silly as I’d been, I did know I could not live long without a heart.
I had not grieved this revelation for very long when one of the clay balls began to tremble. It sprouted a head, grew arms and legs. The smidgen of mud and blood stood up and walked. And then it danced! The clay danced a story so incredibly sweet that my chest ached, and my tears flowed like springtime streams.
When I thought I could no longer stand the ache of that beautiful dance, the second clay ball sprouted a head, grew arms and legs. It stood, spread wide its arms, threw back its head, and sang a song about pearl white moonlight on sleeping fields, about soft spring breezes sweet with the smell of clover and the sad lament of the mourning dove. I wept again and was certain now that my chest would soon be crushed by the weight of the beauty of that song.
Then the third ball – a daub of brown mud, swirled red with my heart’s blood - sprouted a head, grew arms and legs. It stood, grasped a great brush, and painted light and fire across the sky. It wetted the brush again, and stroked swirls of poetry and birdsong, apple blush and sunset gold, baby laughter and lover’s tears across life’s canvas. I looked, and I could not breathe because of the beauty of that painting.
One by one, each of the clay balls stood. They danced and sang, painted and baked, loved and laughed, cried and cried out, made light and new life in the world around them. Each time, the great hole in my chest – the place where my heart had once rested, before I had pinched it into tiny pieces to be tucked inside balls of clay – each time, that great hole in my chest ached with a mixture of wonder and joy and indescribable longing. Ached until, finally, my frail chest – that hollow place where my heart had once rested - could bear no more.
Oh, the cracking and tearing! All that was the Outside side of me quivered, screamed, shivered into a thousand-thousand pieces. A pain the size of eternity shattered my whole being.
How long have I lain pulseless, bled out by that great rending?
How many times has the moon sailed across the night sky?
How often have the trees changed gowns for the autumn dance?
I find that I was not crushed after all.
Rather, I was turned inside out.
Another deep breath. A pulse, so tentative, so faint...
What is this? A new heart?!
I did NOT die when I gave my heart away. I was born again.
And I am just beginning to live.
My dear hearts,