by Chloe N. Clark

My heart is in my throat

                                my heart                              is                             in            my                          throat
I can break this down to its parts: that I am feeling my pulse stronger, that my muscles are tensing                                          I can know that my heart is not actually in my throat

but         when I saw the news today, I remembered that you don’t live that far from there, that you
live so close to something horrific, but you reminded me often enough that no matter where you went you were living close to something horrific, that life for you was always just this side of something awful happening                                        that everywhere here can be unsafe and I didn’t know if here meant this country or this world or maybe the universe itself

And on the news, I couldn’t bear to watch it and I couldn’t bear to not watch it and I couldn’t bear that these were my choices                 and my pulse is beating in my veins and you are in my head, always, some memory of you                           and my heart is pounding until my breath hurts to be taken                                 You said once that you loved the world best before you knew it at all

And when I try to sleep I count my heart beats instead of sheep and each breath I take is like a weight on my chest and I am saying please to the universe over and over though neither of us ever believed in that sort of thing and                        still                                always                  when I think of you

                                my heart                              is in        my throat

Chloe N. Clark’s work appears in such places as Bombay GinDrunken BoatFlash Fiction OnlineHobartMidwestern Gothic, and more. She writes for Nerds of a Feather and Ploughshares. In addition she teaches college comp and tweets @PintsNCupcakes.