Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.

What it Takes to Keep Me

Your grandmother loved me from the day we met
but not enough. She told you you should keep me,
as though a Boy Scout badge, something to put
in a shoebox or sew with thin stitches onto your sash.
Keep her. I wasn’t repelled by her stories of viscera,
of reaching into the red cavity, gripping the muscle,
squeezing when it wouldn’t, reminding it of purpose,
meaning. The bones beneath her pale tattoo corded
as she made a fist. The blue outline of a seagull
undercut by veins shot through her onion skin,
gold band on her gnarled finger thinned to a razor
edge; she touched my sternum. “There,” she said.
“Where we cracked him open.” She squeezed.
“I had his heart in my hand.” I thought about fingers
gripping a scalpel, slicing wet through the sac,
closing around the slick organ that looks nothing
like my childhood drawings, the notes you leave
on my dorm room nightstand. The thick aorta
rising less like a tube and more like a dare. Later,
you rest your head where she touched me,
“I can feel it,” you say. And even though I smile,
run my fingers along the regulation space
between your ear and your hairline, I think,
that’s cliché. Your hands are perfectly clean.
Gabrielle Freeman
Gabrielle Freeman has had poetry appear in journals such as Chagrin River Review, The Emerson Review, and Shenandoah. She earned her MFA in poetry through Converse College. Gabrielle lives with her family in Eastern North Carolina. She blogs about the writing process at

Categories: Poetry, Themed, Unfortunately I can't love you

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4 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Why The Writing Works and commented:
    Congratulations, Gabrielle!

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