“Breton Brother and Sister,” oil on canvas, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1871.

by Carmen Fought

When I listen for your heart
I listen with my hands,
I listen with a hand on your chest
with my eyes closed, the way a river
carving its way through a canyon listens,
the way a room listens
to the temperature as it gets colder
the way a penitent in a cathedral
listens to the stained glass

I listen hoping for a hailstorm,
or a tiled floor
for a needle sewing even stitches,
a book closing on a chapter
and then another
and then the last one

Instead I hear
the hoofbeats of terrified horses
the flickering of a candle as it throws
a shadow on the wall
a bumblebee trapped under a glass

I want to hear plants breaking the soil
one by one in neat rows
Instead I hear God
putting the moon to bed

Carmen Fought is a Professor of Linguistics who teaches at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. She is the author of several books on language and identity, most recently Language and Gender in Children’s Animated Films (2022, Cambridge University Press) which focuses on the representation of gender in Disney and Pixar. Her poems have been published in Gyroscope Review and in the collection Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Review 2021.