When I remembered people will fail me, I attached screech owls to each one of my
hearts & watched them fly away. The night was sharp & made of arrows, but hearts #1-9
survived with only mild injuries. Hearts #10 & #11 slipped from the talons & fell into
hungry animal mouths. We don’t speak of hearts #12-31.

I have opened & closed my fists so many times that I can’t recall which is the gesture of
offering & which is of taking.

For people that believe in mathematics, here is the first equation: when I lose
everything, I see myself. The problem with saying a closed mouth doesn’t get fed is the
assumption that mouth leads to throat, throat leads to stomach. Last I heard, heart #32
is doing well, inhabiting an imaginary cave where people are always good to each other
& know what they want. Last I heard, there is no heart #32.

RUTH BAUMANN is currently an MFA student at the University of Memphis, & Poetry Editor of The Pinch. She attended the Squaw Valley Writers Poetry Workshop in 2012. Her poems are forthcoming or published in Birdfeast, failbetter, Revolution House, THRUSH, PANK & other journals. Most importantly, she has the two best cats in the world.