[from Dan Albergotti's Boatloads, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, selected by Edward Hirsch, 2008]
Still here, and every morning it's almost a surprise
that the sun might come, that it could happen again.
This is how it is. The eagle arrives each day,
but not for my liver. Instead, she comes for my heart.
And it's still agony every time, although I have learned
by now how not to scream. Most days, she lights
on my shoulder, clenching her talons in the flesh,
and right away begins ripping down into my chest,
her head like a cold hammer, tail feathers brushing my nose.
She pulls the heart out in long, thin strips, and flies away,
and I imagine her feeding the dark flesh to her young.
Yet some days, she will light on the rock beside me
and step softly up onto my chest. She will pace along it, stop,
cock her head, and stare into my eyes. Her own dark eye
will bloom wide. She will slowly blink, then lower her beak
to my skin and begin a gentle tearing until her small tongue
is pushing at the shell of my heart. She cuts it out clean
those days and almost seems sorry to leave, to fly off
as my hollowed chest burns. But she does. She flies up
and disappears into the distance, though I can make out
the dwindling speck of her in the great sky for hours.
The day is long. The day is long when you're growing a heart.
Still, look at how the sun falls behind that far peak,
how it glows like one steady eye gazing only here,
how it makes those colors burn and emanate where soon
it will be purely black, how it can make a gift of fire.
Dan Albergotti will be reading at 3 PM on April 17th at the Waccamaw Center for Higher Education in Pawley's Island, SC.
The Boatloads (A. Poulin, Jr. New Poets of America)