What If in Some Alternate Universe I Had My Heart & Lungs on Display? – a poem by Ariana Den Bleyker

What If in Some Alternate Universe I Had My Heart & Lungs on Display?

The girl I am descends
heart-first under the last October sky.
I’m a deity of the rivers raging.
God, I’m open.
I’m a salmon swimming back upstream,
cut & bruised, leaping against waterfalls—
strong—my only dream to return
to the source, & in that thought, my iron age turns
golden & suddenly I’m a hero,
my nature seeking the nature it once had,
though wholly lost yet remembering the whole.
I, silver salmon, sparkling fierce
under the blue belly of sun,
speeding through the mountains
immovable in that same blue.

I can feel the iron & thundering,
half-moons rising in my palms seeking
to catch an echo or a rainbow.
It’s true other years bore other fruits,
there to remain forever sweet—
how my first bite of fruit always tastes best.
Year after year I’m unable to divine the good
because rain & tear are not the same.
It’s true every tale must end,
somehow remain behind,
the same dreaming never enough.
& sometimes my fear calls loud
as a sleepless owl, regenerating life
as a bird crooked at the wings.

I must dive as an anchor into the past,
though arm’s length from it,
for fear of being dragged back home.
Here, I only see what isn’t & what isn’t me.
(I’m half-hell & half-morning.)
How I fear the world for dividing & dividing
into things without ever being born.
I want to believe it’s natural to give, to generate,
to take something and make it new.
I wish I could break
& leave nothing but a kind mess.
& you’d be with me in that world.
& I’d let you touch me.


Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native currently residing in New York’s Hudson Valley where she is a wife and mother of two. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family and every once in a while sleeps. She is the author of three collections, twenty chapbooks, three crime novellas, a novelette, and an experimental memoir. She hopes you’ll fall in love with her words.

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