the beating begat the heart, not vice versa
The rug was ugly — thick and coarse. I don’t know
how I ended up down there. I understood that I
should listen to what he was saying. Instead,
the thought: fish have hearts. How odd to think
of millions of hearts beneath the river’s surface,
a swarm of beatings around a barge, rich with algae.
He was saying something and I pressed my legs
together but they refused to fuse into a tail. There were
choices — other rugs, the option to stand —
I chose to stay. I think he talked a lot or
not very much. I thought a lot about wounds or
I didn’t. I remember watching hornets fight
over the pool of blood. Or they fought over
glistening at a gash in a tree. The sad thing is
I wanted to stay or I didn’t know how to leave.
Like good houseguests, my beliefs had tidied up,
stripped the bed, and gone. Without harm, I was
just knuckles on a gunwale, then thrashing. Fingers
cut off to make me let go of the boat. Shhhh,
the beating school soothed. Swim.
Elizabeth Hoover’s poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Crab Orchard Review, and The Awl, among others. She won the 2017 Boulevard Poetry Contest for Emerging Poets, the 2015 Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize from IthacaLit, and the 2014 StoryQuarterly essay prize. Her book, art, and cultural criticism has appeared The Washington Post, Paper, Bitch, the American Poetry Review, and Minneapolis Star Tribune, among others. You can see more of her work at ehooverink.com.
Laurence Hervieux-Gosselin was born in Montreal, Quebec. She studied scriptwriting and communications at Université du Québec à Montréal and has a BFA in Photography from Concordia University. She is currently an MFA candidate in Art Photography in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. In 2018, she was a finalist for the Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award, and in 2014, she was a finalist for the Ideastap Photographic Award with Magnum Photos. Her work has been exhibited at Uqbar (Berlin, 2018), La Castiglione (Montreal, 2018), Burrard Arts Foundation (Vancouver, 2017), Monash Gallery of Art (Melbourne, 2017), dnj Gallery (Santa Monica, 2016), and The Old Truman Brewery (London, 2014).