Heart Murmur

There she sat beside me in class

Twitching. The professor spoke

But all I could hear was the sound of her

Twitching. A moment of stillness

and then the motion of her

Twitch. A sudden movement

Interrupted by calmness,

Immobility. I began to count

the seconds between each

Twitch. One. Two. Three. Four.

Twitch. Others in the class wanted to scream

And tell her to stop. “For fuck’s sake can you sit

Still,” they wanted to yell.

I, for one, did not mind the broken rhythm of her

Twitching. I wanted to know the why

Behind the movement that wouldn’t stop.

Sometimes seven seconds would pass,

And I’d worry that it had stopped. Does the predictable

Tick now cease to exist in her

Soul or has some powerful source come and fixed

Her; is she now healed from the rhythmic

Twitch that somehow made her her, and is it even fair

To speak as if she were defined by the ostracizing

Twitch that held her body hostage?

I don’t know the answers. All I know is this:

I wanted to take her by the hand, pull her

Close to me, and let her take refuge

In my bosom. I wanted to hold

Her to me as a mother would her

Premature baby whose existence in the world is but fleeting.

I wanted to hold her to my heart— the one that doctors

Said beat irregularly. I wanted to let her

Hear mine and listen to hers because I wondered.

I wondered. I wondered: does her heart

Twitch too?

But instead I kept quiet and sat still

But alert. Hyper-aware of her

Twitch, hyper-aware of our classmates’ cruelty

In their unresponsiveness, unaware of the professor’s

Words written on the white board,

And counting down the seconds

Until her next Twitch.

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