by Lesley Wheeler

Since my heart stopped I can feel the clock ticking,
the creek dreaming, the light sinking. Blood

pools at my ankles—socks full of mud. How
can I keep walking, talking, skinning a bagel,

sniffing the yeast? I dangle my head and arms
over the bed-cliff to warm them. My face is torn,

my hair looks dead. The small hot birds sound closer
than ever. I stop breathing, experimentally.

Just a habit, painless to break. The world
pulled in, the world pushed out, molecules

unchanged. Since my heart stopped, rot begins.
To move is to haul meat. A sour scent, blush

of green along the fat. Will I wither
snug along my bones or loosen, peel

away? Since my heart stopped, questions fester
like microscopic eggs. I never knew

that the fire in me could cool and still a walking,
talking engine would conduct the business

of my will. That I was less a working
body than a mind’s routine, a rhythm.