Anne Bower

Red Heart


“He would keep the rest where it belonged: in that tobacco tin buried in his chest where a red heart used to be. Its lid rusted shut” (Paul D. in Toni Morrison’s Beloved)

The heart, that four-chambered box
of blood and muscle
we say is our center of feeling
though science credits the brain

The heart pumps
yet sometimes feels rusted shut
crouches, moans, weight of history

iron bars, the hungry belly,
a ceiling low and dark,

weight of present
clutching apathy
despite knowledge, resolve, words

Surely something can pry off
this layered crust
some touch, generosity, need
can oil the hinges
release the fears that
close the box


After years in academia, publishing in the field of food and culture, I live in a 230-year-old house in rural Vermont, teach tai chi, have health and family to inspire me even as our world’s calamities threaten. Poetry publications include Poems for Tai Chi Players (Kattywompus Press, 2013), PoemCity and PoemTown (Montpelier & Randolph, VT, 2016 & 2017) poem-poster displays. As an aging cynic, I MUST believe in renewal. The garden and compost pile help!

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