Suzanne Cleary


How does, how does, how does it work

so, little valve stretching messily open, as wide as possible,

all directions at once, sucking air, sucking blood, sucking air-in-blood,

how? On the screen I see the part of me that always loves my life, never tires

of what it takes, this in-and-out, this open-and-shut in the dark chest of me,

tireless, without muscle or bone, all flex and flux and blind

will, little mouth widening, opening and opening and, then, snapping

shut, shuddering anemone entirely of darkness, sea creature

of the spangled and sparkling sea, down, down where light cannot reach.

When the technician stoops, flips a switch, the most unpopular kid in the class

stands off-stage with a metal sheet, shaking it while Lear raves.

So this is the house where love lives, a tin shed in a windstorm,

tin shed at the sea’s edge, the land’s edge, waters wild and steady, wild and steady, wild.




“Echocardiogram” is reprinted with permission from Trick Pear (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2007), and was also collected in Enskyment, an online anthology of poetry.