Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

I Cannot Explain My Heart


Some days, my heart is in my head. It does not have a mind of its own. It thinks too much, I think.


Who doesn’t want a wild and crazy heart, an untamed heart, a heart that cannot heal and at the same time cannot hurt? Some days, my heart is a cold heart, a hard heart, a hard-hatted heart.


But some days!


I am telling you, it is not.


I will take my heart into my own hands, I think. Somebody has to. Some people have told it no, and so I have told it no, but my heart, disobedient dog, will not lie down. It’s no tight fist pumping in my rib cage. It’s a six-fingered daisy (loves me, loves me not) on the long arm of a pendulum (love him, love him not) tucked in the dark end of a grandfather clock. It’s a heart that won’t stay still.


Once my nephew asked my mother what was my favorite thing in all of the world, and she said, books. If my nephew had asked me what my favorite thing in all of the world was, I would not have been able to answer.


Don’t I know my own heart?


She was right. It is books.


Some days, I think the only reason I need other people is for them to write more books. But that is not true, of course.


I know women who say they knew they were dating the one! when he helped them through death of, illness of, disaster of… But isn’t it better to shore up against boredom than tragedy? Is love only the bookend to grief? Is love only in case of emergency? I just want a guy I want to talk to every day. That’s a lie. I also want that guy to want to talk to me every day. No. Most days. I want us to want to talk to each other most days.


I may not be in love, but some days, I am in so much love I can’t even tell you. I am inside of so much love.


At the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, there is a large plastic heart for visitors to walk through. It used to be my favorite thing. Now I see, it has seen better days. There is graffiti on the inside.


That is my heart. It has seen better days. But it’s still a heart. 


Walk through: you’ll see. A working model of a heart!


My nephew was trying to figure out what to make me for my birthday. He wanted to make me my favorite thing in all of the world. So he made me a book. I did not think I could love him more than I did, but now I do. And then my niece was born. My god, my heart. 


Some days, my heart feels like the tiny frog heart I excavated in seventh grade biology. But some days! It is a Godzilla heart.


You don’t believe me, but I am telling you mine is a good heart. A heart-healthy heart. A candy red heart. A heart-shaped heart.


I will hand it over, I think. I’ve had it too long. You can have it.


That’s a lie. 


You already do. It’s already gone. Look down. There it is, in your heart-shaped hands.

Ayse Papatya Bucak teaches in the M.F.A. program at Florida Atlantic University. Her nonfiction has been published in Brevity and Creative Nonfiction, and her short fiction has been awarded the O.Henry and Pushcart Prizes.