Heartbreak, after all

By Maria Cohut

I called her “Heartbreak” when
I burst into the middle of her life – 
in my defense, I only realised this much later.

In photographs, people have no lives,
only smiles and good lighting
that erases their past:
which schools they went to,
whose beds they unruffled,
what funerals they turned away from
in anger. So when I called her,
“come here, Heartbreak,” she
ran to me the way a stray might
when she hears the crunch of fish
bones in her master’s teeth.

She did not seem to mind
losing her name to my vanity,
so I never even bothered to ask
how she had come by her wrinkles,
or why mornings frightened her so,
with their shrewish alarm clocks,
sugarless coffees and slurred, clumsy goodbyes.
She did not tell me until later, until late
into our covenant, when I was certain of my dominion.

She told me her whens, and hows, and whys
as you might tell a child a favourite story
whose end you have altered on purpose,
to show that the princess can really save herself.

Except, in her story, there was no princess –
only a little bird who did not understand
happy endings because it was only a bird,
after all.

Maria Cohut is a writer, independent researcher, and science communicator based in Brighton, U.K. Her writing has appeared in the Haiku Journal, The Found Poetry Review, Eunoia Review, and Doll Hospital Journal, among others. She also blogs about life and her love of all things bizarre at Encyclopaedia Vanitatum. On Twitter, she can be found @mariascohut.

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