Shelley’s Heart Stands at Attention like a Fugitive Domino

Trans Issue 2015

A half-sunk ship offers its captain to the sea. The sea sneers at such gifts, but cannot resist. The lungs offer their resistance, but cannot last. His last words lost to the water’s gasp. Hours pass. The corpse has no standing. The corpse cannot guess the place it will land, can’t interpret the signs stamped in its own loose knee parts. Its sorrow rang in the bloated gut. Fish dared each other to feed on the thing and found — despite the idiot hunger yet commanding them — they could not. If the corpse had principles, they were level with the sea that coffined him, the sea that wrote its name on his shattered face. Now the sea offers its rotting cargo to the shore. The sand receives it like a seasoned stevedore and agrees to the burning, though the captain’s friends do not ask. And when the witnesses came sweating to the edge of the pyre, their accounts coincided only in this: that the corpse fell open wetly, like a book, and the heart within it blackened but did not burn.