Ruptured Heart Theory

Wendy Xu

That the man with the ruptured heart would be punished
in our place; that his life yet unlived would remain just that
without talk of a wife and children.

That we would mourn him only up to the part where
we begin to mourn ourselves, to feel
that we were somehow also there, yes

once we too were on the small hill
outside Jerusalem and once
we bound a man with rope and asked
him to love us.

Hand fingers a button on the telephone,
then another.
It is the waiting now, which denies you
to sit,

the wind picks up snow and moves it.

It is good to know the direction of things.

And for a while we thought you infallible,
as a child does not hear his father

outside in the courtyard, night sky low
and unweaving black
while he begs his wife:
Mary, Mary,
I did not know what he would become.

For a while we thought it mattered
the manner
of our undoing.

In the intensive care unit of a Texas hospital
a man lay dying,
and we understood then what before
we could not have known:
that the first and only temptation has always been
the body.
All the kingdoms of the earth
for a heart which moves blood

while each scratch of the pen a prayer,

each heart unsuited for transfer
beseeches us.

The story goes on without us, but only
without us
can the story belong to us,

accomplished by us the story
becomes us.



That we did not care what words he spoke
either to us at his bedside or
alone into formidable paling of light,

only that he existed and so
we are forgiven,

and so we understand the nature
of love.



A yellow bicycle with a yellow basket,
you riding by quickly in summer.

This occurs to me now as the residue
of a life, that which left behind becomes more real
than the living,
because living risks losing,
and because the losing threatens to erase
what you have lived,

because the residue of you
is me,

because the heart which breaks itself
in living lives

Wendy Xu
Wendy Xu

Wendy Xu is the author of The Hero Poems, a chapbook from H_NGM_N BKS. Recent poems have appeared, or are forthcoming in Diagram, Cutbank, Jellyfish, NOO, Columbia Poetry Review, Third Coast, and elsewhere. She co-edits iO: A Journal of New American Poetry / iO Books, and lives in Northampton.