Anna Leahy

Thorax: this arrhythmia


Once a thing is done,
it cannot be taken back.

It sears. It smolders. Fate seals it.
The gravest mistakes we make

are when grief and fear lodge
in the chambers of our hearts

as if they are companions
warming themselves by the atrial fire

and we are taken by surprise
by someone else’s hurt,

that someone else can hang fire
and our impulse to spark it.

Blood rushes in through a pause and leaves
full of glint and wasted time. Angina

is a strangling. The heart heals by scars.
It’s an involuntary muscle,

unthinking or unwilling or both.
To live, then, is to admit

having done the unforgivable,
the heart only reconciled

with life’s quivering fibrillations until
the ventricular flutter of farewell

when the body of the world leaps
into the stunning undoing.



Anna Leahy is the author of the poetry collections Gloss, What Happened Was:, Aperture, Constituents of Matter, and If in Some Cataclysm (forthcoming) and the nonfiction book Tumor. She edits Tab Journal and has been a fellow at MacDowell and the American Library in Paris. More at