It’s not the part where he tells you
He has no heart. It’s not when he
Tells you how much he wants one,
How everything until just now has been
Frozen for him in time, how the trees all
Seem so sour, & territorial, all while he hefts
That gleaming axe. It’s not his silver tongue
Or how the tears fell like clockwork, then
Sawdust. It’s not how he so casually walked off
The job that day, knowing he would follow
You anywhere. If only someone had thought
To change the music just as you asked him
To join you, a theremin, or some low-octave piano.
If only you hadn’t run after so much disaster.
It’s one kind of weapon to be able to tell a girl
A story; it’s another kind to be able to walk her
Home. It’s not even the way he tried to breathe
Those flowers deep into his tin lungs just so he could
Sleep beside you, dreaming of how his ticking
Heart would be the alarm that wakes you,
How his creaking arms would be the ones
To build you a house that stayed put.
It’s the way he looks at you, the way he thinks
He’s loved you since before you even first
Arrived here in front of him, hungry for
Apples that weren’t even his to give you.
Copyright © 2020 Amy Woolard
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.