Reading Time: < 1 minute

How can I teach when I am heartbroken?

When my throat clenches,
when my words flee, 
when my eyes blur,
how am I to softly compose
thoughts into images,
dreams into documents?

My fingers knit over one another:
nails picked to shards,
skin wan, hands trembling,
a rasp of calluses and dry patches,
a susurration of nerves.

You wouldn’t know
that my hands bleed in winter,
that my eyelids puff with tears,
that bloody noses dot my days
flaring red on white,
a rose on a snowy grave.

You might know if I told you
this, or anything remotely about my life,
or anything beyond
“Thank you, I will see who else is hiring”

and I hang up the phone
and curl around my heart
and clasp red hands to red nose,
wondering what my tears might teach
me, a teacher with no students,
a voice with no ear,
a vessel with no blood.

Wrung out
(though you wouldn’t know it)
burned out 
(under layers of concealer)
 and now I’m out of this game,
leaving skin flakes and droplets
where you once held my heart
in cupped hands, a classroom that—
if I leave my heart behind in it,
will there be no more heartbreak?

First appeared at Corporeal Lit Mag, December 2021

Jeana Jorgensen

FOXY FOLKORIST Studied folklore under Alan Dundes at the University of California, Berkeley, and went on to earn her PhD in folklore from Indiana University. She researches gender and sexuality in fairy...