Heart (Gregory Orr)

December 23, 2009


Its hinges rustless,
restless; opening
and shutting on trust.


We guard it;
it guides us.
Gods lack it.
Vacant their gaze.


Doctors listen
to its cryptic
          From sacred
to sacred–a few
beats skipped,
a letter slipped.


Cavity and spasm;
a spark can start
it; parting stop it.

Such a radiant husk
to hive our dust!


This is the first poem in Gregory Orr’s The Caged Owl (2002), a book I received in the mail yesterday from my good friend Stephen in Baltimore. There is nothing nothing nothing quite like receiving a box of books in the mail. The surprise, the expectation, the bright covers and crisp pages fluttering off the thumb. To send books to a friend is a high gesture of the heart (that radiant husk!).

You can hear Orr read the poem at Penn Sound, or watch him read at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore last year at a Smartish Pace sponsored event.

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