I went to the stylist
and asked her to cut off my heart
so she palmed my skull
and firmly tipped my head down
and red pieces of my heart
fell all around me,
dusting the tiles,
the tips of my shoes,
my knees under the black shroud.
The shop door was open
and I could hear children
ordering melon snowballs
from the cart on the corner,
overhead trains, calls to prayer.
It felt like long decades,
but then she spun me around
so I could see the back of my neck
in a tiny mirror.
I couldn’t understand that this was me
but how much lighter I felt
and I thought how much easier it will be
for me to get things done—
skinning tomatoes over the steaming sink,
sorting my dead mother’s photographs—
without all those strands of my heart in the way.
SARA WALLACE is the author of The Rival. Her poetry has appeared in Agni, Hanging Loose, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry Daily, and others. A recent finalist for a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, she is a recipient of a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation and fellowships from the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts and the Millay Colony for the Arts. She currently teaches at New York University and lives in Brooklyn.
image: Mary Cassatt, Denise at Her Dressing Table (detail), 1908-09