they tell me that my heart is the size of my fist

ever pulsing, ever quivering with
the kind of life you could easily miss
simply by gazing into my eyes and seeing
the kind of desolation that comes from
living life at a million miles per hour
and crashing too hard against a brick wall

it is the perfect size for someone else’s fist
to come hurtling through my ribcage
and beat my heart until it is black and blue

Rachel Kertz 3
Photo courtesy of Rachel Kertz

but sometimes you don’t need a fist
just a lopsided smile that stays firmly affixed
even as you somehow worm your way into
my darkest cages and tear apart everything
every atom of fragile strength that
I built up once upon a time from the debris
of a wrecking ball of the ghost of a smile
that looked uncannily similar to yours

there’s an ache in my chest
that seems to be permanently affixed
as much a part of me as my heart or lungs
or my 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12 ribs
the same number as always, meant to
protect me from feeling too much
or hurting too deep
or falling head over heels for the kind of danger
that will only turn into another faded scar

but still, late in the night when
I dream of shadows that should not be spoken of
in the golden-washed daylight
the ache steals back into my chest
recurring as if I cannot ever reach in
and steal it away and hide it
back in the cages of my own making
where dark things dwell and ghosts of smiles linger

they tell me that my heart is the size of my fist

but no one ever told me why it hurts so much
to dream of danger and to chase a treacherous lie
until the black and blue bruises fade away
and my ribcage opens, and I cannot find the key
to lock it away as its contents are beaten to the ground
once again




Topaz WintersTopaz Winters is 14 years old and lives in the faraway land of Singapore. Sometimes she composes music, and other times she writes books. If she knows you, she’s probably written about you. Her debut novel, Frozen Hearts, drops in December of this year, and her first album comes out in 2015. She’s a compulsive book hoarder and a hopeless romantic, and she enjoys strong coffee, ugly cats, and the taste of words.


Rachel Kertz was born in a small town in Missouri in 1988. While earning her degree at Southeast Missouri State University, she became interested in photography and began using her commutes as excuses to go on long drives through the rural countrysides, hoping to find locations and abandoned houses to photograph. She hopes to convey relatable stories in her images that speak to her audience on themes such as loneliness, love, exploration, and the feeling of being alone in unconventionally beautiful places. You can find more of her work on Flickr.

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