The world’s first doctor was a mother.
Who diagnosed her patients asking the question,
“Can you show me where it hurts?”
And we staged sold-out concerts singing our pain as if the melody itself could explain the cure
Medicine’s first prescription was a kiss.
This is still practiced today.
Practiced on the scrapes of children who play just a little too hard,
Once-broken skin now scarred and worn as a medal of bravery
We paid our hospital bills with our hearts;
Our medical charts read like apologies: please accept these simple words as payment.
But we did not yet know the words ‘I love you’
Our first attempt was an invention, it sounded a lot like,
The heart became a metaphor.
If our body said enough, our hearts roared 'more’.
The heart became the core of our spirit, the seat of our emotion,
Currents and undertows of passion swelling within an ocean of feeling
We cast out our dreams and begin reeling in our desires;
Our heartstrings were wires trolling for love
I’ve known those who wear their heart like a boxing glove, ready to knock out each next contender
To render them weak-kneed and falling
Corners calling for timeouts as each fan rises to their feet and shouts
But what happens when there’s no fight left?
When the heart is bereft of the will it takes to continue beating,
When the beats begin cheating, skipping like a
bro-broken record, like a bro-bro skipping like-like a bro-broken re-record ski-skipping l-like a b-broken re-rec-record like a broken record.
And the volume falls from a yell to a whisper, a murmur.
Each beat less sure than the last; each silence a vast expanse where echoes hold no lease
Where rhythms police themselves, arresting the unfamiliar as if they were the usual suspects
How man times did love become subtext to stories that started with the question,
'Can you show me where it hurts’?
And how many times did we point to bruises or skinned knees
How many times did we beg please, please make it better.
This poem is brought to you by the question why.
Why is 'where’ a less important question?
Where does it hurt?
Why have we been stacking how upon how, like now when we’ve asked how many mothers?
How many aunts and sisters
How many daughters and cousins
How many grandmothers?
How many others hold their hearts and their throats, choking on last goodbyes and not knowing what to say?
How many fathers pray for hope?
How many sons cannot comfort brothers who cannot cope with the loss of those who give them life?
How many husbands will lose a wife this year?
It is not a number we wish to know.
We throw our love at death, hoping that through an act of sheer will we can make it not true.
I’ve known men willing to do anything just for a chance to bring you a tomorrow.
Boys would gladly borrow false hope if it meant that just for a moment they could believe everything will be okay.
Uncles who stay at the bedside of nieces,
Mothers who collect the pieces of their daughters’ broken hearts,
And build cathedrals of stained glass, begging light to pass through this moment to keep the shadows at bay for just a few seconds longer.
I have witnessed no heart stronger than those that weeped openly at the altars of love, family, and friendship.
We grip at our hearts not out of sympathy, not out of pity or charity. We grip at our chests because this is where we care from.
Each heart is a drum beating from underneath the concert hall of skin and bone, and as one lone drum sets for us the tempo, all of us echo in harmony.
We grip at our chests and sound off like a symphony of red alerts
It is a show of solidarity.
This is where it hurts.