Bad Heart

Bad Heart

He just had a bad heart,

I was told, while still

young enough to think of one

as that shape

he would draw

on my birthday cards, with his chickenscratch

handwriting beneath: I love you

a bushel and a peck, and a hug

around the neck.

I could sense something unsaid was being said,

or maybe the other way around,

and as a student of the intricate southern shame-language,

I knew when not to ask things like,

What was so bad about it? Instead,

I wondered for years,

until things seemed to make sense.


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