Michelle Bitting

Your heart will forever break at what you are hearing

Dumbly, as the dregs at the bottom of my coffee cup. Wildly, like the light in my son’s eyes after he crafts something strong. I grow old and imagine taking a match to the barn, the roof and windowsills sweating more paint than scales in an aquarium. The house is a sponge with termites nestled in holes. Scary uniformed men poured poison in so now we sense the beams better. Shut it, the poet says. Your heart doesn’t stop at what you hear. Not really. A certain breed of termites: subterranean but also winged. When the kids were small everything felt simple and exhausting at the same time. Beauty never got old. No one slept and my heart never broke, not really. My love’s hearing goes but his blood is sweeter. Mine: bitter and bolted to earth. Beauty will be broken with all the vowels still intact. My heart might die. Your alphabet is older. I’ll just shut it now. Let the dead kidnap my mouth.

Michelle Bitting is the author of five collections of poetry, Good Friday Kiss, winner of the inaugural De Novo First Book Award (C & R Press); Notes to the Beloved which won the Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award (reissued by C & R Press); The Couple Who Fell to Earth (C & R Press); Broken Kingdom, winner of the 2018 Catamaran Poetry Prize, and Nightmares & Miracles (Two Sylvias Press, 2022), winner of the Wilder Prize. Michelle is a lecturer in Poetry and Creative Writing at Loyola Marymount University and Film Studies at University of Arizona Global.

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Spring 2022