My ankle is weak, I’ve bought
a special strap to shore it up.
My heart is scrappy and self-taught:
its wild tom-tom beats I cannot lock up.

The doctor hears a whisper and a shudder:
some hearts sad as last year’s advent
calendar, the little tabs won’t lock again, or flutter.
The pulse is ordered like the emptied-echoed convent

halls. The doctor has his blades and blood.
Small reprieve: the ankle heals, the heart does not.
The rules of the Talmud and the rules of the Flood
move forward the plot. Contortionist, the heart is prone to knots.

What colors the blood and artery, like rubies and jade!
My ankle carries me even when my heart is afraid.

—Valerie Wohlfeld, Newburyport, MA