Heart Work

Monday. Bronze sunlight
on the worn gray rug
in the dining room where Viva sits
playing her recorder. Pain-ripened sunlight
I nearly wrote, like the huge
vine-ripened tomato
my friend brought yesterday
from her garden, to add to our salad:
meaning what comes

in its time to its own
end, then breaks
off easily, needing no more
from summer.

The notes
of some medieval dance
spill gracefully from the stream
of Viva’s breath. Something
that had been stopped

is beginning to move: a leaf
driven against rock
by a current
frees itself, finds its way again
through moving water. The angle of

is low, but still it fills
this space we’re in. What interrupts

is sometimes an abundance. My
sorrow too,
which grew large through summer
feels to me this morning

as though if I touched it
where the thick dark stem

is joined to the root, it would release
whole, it would be something I could

“Heart Work” from Kindred Flame by Anita Barrows. Copyright © 2010 by Anita Barrows. Used with permission of the poet.

This poem was originally read in the On Being episode “The Soul in Depression.