Ode to the Wild Heart

By Mary Jo Firth Gillett

See how I clasp it to me, thunderclap
my way through. Oh constant invisible,
oh emperor of the unruly, tell me—
do I consume you or you me?
Downcast, you stain me indigo
but I love the blues—lapis lazuli
and Billie Holiday and the neon tetra’s
iridescence—is it biology?—
I the algae, you my luminescence?
But no, that’s too much—
a fleshless excuse for excess.
Hyper heart, you tattoo me,
every inch of skin inked,
but you are not indelible—
see how I embrace the pleasure
of erasure, the fleeting this, then this,
the smudge and blur,
the quickening pulse of swerve,
of word, the veiled, the reviled,
the revealed. And so, lost song
of nightingale, swoop of lark,
you are the ghosts of night,
the smidgen of hope,
the low-hanging, the high-flying—
my wisteria, my hysteria,
my gilt-edged book,
my glint in the dark.

Mary Jo Firth Gillett’s poetry collection, Soluble Fish, won the Crab Orchard Series First Book Award (SIU Press). She has also published four award-winning chapbooks of poetry, most recently Dance Like a Flame (Hill-Stead Museum). Poems have appeared or are forthcoming from The Southern Review, Spillway, Southern Poetry Review, Salamander, and other journals as well as the Poetry Daily and Verse Daily sites.

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