Coronary Truth – a poem by Diane Elayne Dees

Coronary Truth

My friend calls to tell me
he’s had a heart attack.
I pace with the phone,
and through my kitchen window,
I see the season’s first oriole,
darting along the lawn
as if nothing amiss has occurred.
I listen to my friend describe
the pain—the trip to the e.r., the fight
with the nurse—while a chickadee
checks out an abandoned bluebird
nest. Only this morning, I struggled
to ignore the heaving in my own chest—
the clenched fist tightened around my
broken heart that renders me breathless.
Outside, tiny hearts flutter as feathers
whir by my window, brown leaves
are thrashed, and seed falls to the ground.
My friend makes heart attack jokes,
but I know he’s afraid. I am afraid: for him,
and for our hearts, no longer protected
by pure being, but rendered fragile
as hummingbird eggs by a lifetime
of confinement in human cages.


Diane Elayne Dees‘s poems have been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane, who lives in Covington, Louisiana, also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that covers women’s professional tennis throughout the world. (


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