Notes on the Score: Instructions for Playing a Heart’s Song
I. Ritenuto (hold back)
We sat together above the black river, sour water licking the wall of weathered stones. They held your body and you held mine, head in your lap, fingers tracing patterns into my skull at the hairline. You spoke to the soft, rust colored layers of sky, muttered a prayer for hope into the setting sun. Talked of twins born sharing the same body. Two legs, two arms, two heads. Two spinal cords. Two different, but slightly fused, wildly beating hearts encased in the same chest cavity, pulsing furiously against the same set of thin ribs. I wondered briefly what our hearts would look like fused together, wondered if your bones had room for part of me inside them too.
Would never wonder these things
aloud. Would never speak them
into the sleepily setting sun.
The last vestiges of light sprayed across the water, small waves shattering them into fragments, dancing around beneath us, beneath the stone of the ledge. The twins hope to fall in love, marry, and have children one day, you told me. I sat up. Facing you, eyebrows angled together in curiosity, I had only one question.
Will one person be able to love
both hearts in one body, or will two
people learn to love a separate
heart and the same body?
You stared, empty of answers. Stroked your thumb across my wrist, which lay limp in your lap where my head had been before. I understood, really, that an answer from you was not important. Understood, briefly, that nobody could truly love two hearts at once, not even if they were sheltered inside the same house of bones and skin and blood and muscle.
Pulled my hand back from your lap,
turned my face towards the warmth
of the light on the water and
breathed deeply. Nobody.
II. Rallentando (gradually getting slower)
We began quickly, kept going
even quicker. Tumbled past passion
and straight into intimacy, into attachment,
dependence. Like the twins, cannot walk
unless both alternate moving each limb
they control, unless they accept the attachment
that cannot be undone and move forward,
Now, yield. Slow down. Coordinate and
control. My limb has begun to move
faster than yours, separated. We must
relax our lithe muscles, let the warm
breath of intimacy take hold and propel
us forwards. Must learn that perhaps,
we were not really made to move
together as one.
III. A Capella (unaccompanied)
Evening, on the beach. Stars with such uncharacteristic radiance for a patch of land already so lit up with human lights on the ground. I walk out into the ocean until the water is chest deep, until all I can see of you on the shoreline is your figure, black against the softly silver night sky. Until all I can hear is the rolling and crashing of dark water against itself, against me. Until I am far away, unattached, distant. Alone. Nobody could possibly love two hearts at once. You had already chosen your heart, and it did not resemble my own pale, feather-light organ. I let the chilled water beat against my chest over and over and over again, steady and strong. Let my lonely heart feel another rhythm against its own, for once.
IV. Tristé (sad, sorrowful)
If melancholy were music it would sound
like “diminuendo,” like the slowing pace
of my light breathing against your chest
as you tell me the story of how he broke
your heart. The story of how you wish for
love that would expand inside your ribs
like the belly of a croaking frog.
If melancholy were music
it would sound like the silence
of the words I will never speak
to you. It would sound like this:
I wonder if our love would look
like two hearts fused together,
would expand your chest
in the way you crave.
I wonder if your bones have
room for me inside them, too.
About the Author:
Erinn Seifert is currently a student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, working towards her Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with a concentration in nonfiction. She loves dogs, classical music, and avocados.