I Will Decrease The Property Value Of Your Heart

by Brenda Snyder

like a murder or a bad paint job

I am cracked tiles and loud neighbors

I am the reason you stand empty,
no one looking to call you home.

I am a fixer-upper,
a project

you’ll want to fix my broken parts
but you won’t have the funds

I’m that car you take to get inspected 
knowing I won’t pass
but you can drive on a rejection sticker for 60 days
and you’ve got places to be

I am four years of college
and $30,000 of debt to show for it

I am that part-time, entry-level job
you’re overqualified for
I’ll help pay the rent, 
but not much else

being with me means
“just getting by”

I am also the sound of cars passing on a freeway
when you look at me and ask what I want
I will stare back at you with an empty mouth
because I’m made out of the words and wants of others
I only exist because of the roar of someone else’s engine

and I don’t know if these breaths are mine 
or yours 
or his
or the just exhaust from a broken muffler

and more than anything else 
I am sorry

I am so sorry
because I am all of these things,

I am every scraped knee and broken heart 
etched elaborately into my armor

there is a reason I inked 
the chambers from my chest
into the skin of my forearm

I feel everything
all at once
and it never stops

but, I’ve gotten good at hiding it

I bury this heart on my sleeve
in work,
in words,
in boys,
and beaches

I saddle on more than I can carry
and call myself strong

I’ve learned from experience
that if you lift the same weight every day
it teaches your muscles tolerance

and I grew biceps and a backbone 
under the weight of all of this

I am a lighthouse 
built strong to resist storms
but placed on crumbling cliff sides

I live on the edge of oceans
falling in love with battering ram waves
sending my light out into the darkness
as if to say
“stay away
I will sink you”

there is no home inside this harbor
I’ve been without a keeper for far too long
and my lamplight will burn out soon
ships will come crashing at my sides
splintering upon impact

don’t say I didn’t warn you
all I’ve ever done is warn you

but you still tell me I’m a cherry tree
growing out of the sidewalk

my roots grow deep into the concrete
soaking up nutrients from the soil far beneath the city

and in springtime 
my fingertips will bloom blossoms
and you’ll think I’m the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen

but my beauty only lasts a week or two at a time
only to be brought down by a strong gust or heavy rain

and even when I form pink puddles in the streets
you’ll think that’s beautiful

but a streetsweeper will come by soon
and I’ll be left bare for the rest of the seasons

but if you can count on anything
it’s the consistency of a calendar year

and if you’re willing to wait through the winter
I promise you
my thaw will be just as beautiful 
as last year

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: