What does it take to mend a heart?

Day 172 and 173

photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez


What does it take to mend a heart?

Stitches and sutures?

Fine threads tied end to end,

pulling broken pieces together.

Or bandages and band-aids, with smooth, sticky surfaces,

hiding injuries from view?

I’ve held the still beating heart of a slithering snake,

small like a cherry, and ruby red too,

pumping on, refusing to give up the fight.

And the heart of a deer fits snugly in the palm,

wrapped with ribbons

of arteries and veins,


heavy with strength.

I heard my son’s sweet heart, before he was born,

like the whisper of winds through the trees or waves crashing on the shore,

and I can hear my own heart’s rhythm,

thumping in my ears at night,

softly reassuring.

photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez

If I could open your chest, what would I see?

Is your own heart marked with a million small sadnesses,

a thousand simple joys?

What does it take to mend a broken heart?

And the heart of the earth? How about that?

Can we pull the pieces together, apply pressure,

and hope for the best?

My heart is broken too mama.

Like an offering, I hold it out to you.

Maybe there’s healing in that.





Thank you for listening,



photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez

This guest post sings the truth. Thank you, Michelle, for reminding us that our choices are not simple in this world. Sometimes it feels like all our options are the wrong ones. And sometimes it feels like they’re just right. We’re all doing the best we can, in a system made to chew us up and spit us out. I love this piece. I FEEL it. And I love you Shell. THANK YOU.

i’m just thinking of buying groceries at the tiny bodega on the corner, where everything is packed in, screaming with colors and words, where cereal is $5.99 per box, where i can’t pronounce a lot of the ingredients past “sugar”.
sometimes i cringe, knowing these are GMO-filled, refined sugary “snacks”, processed cheese food, vegetables that have seen better days. but it’s just half a block away, so always find myself over there, cruising the 4 small aisles, looking for this or that.
sometimes i see the sweet little boy with his beautiful skin tone, his huge, round eyes peeking out from behind the counter, barely tall enough to be seen. he hides behind his mama, or his papa, who own the little store, who came from nepal, left their family to run this store.
the boy will stare, then his lips sort of twist up and his eyes shine, and then he grins wildly, showing his perfect, small teeth. his mother is friendly and smiles warmly. his father is kind, and will chat for a few moments. he always says hello when i come in. we’re neighbors, after all.
once i went in with a group of friends. someone wanted to buy a nut from a glass jar on the counter. the nepali family laughed, a friendly, twittering laugh. “these nuts aren’t really tasty. you wouldn’t like it,” the father tried to explain. he cracked one open and let us have a small taste. “they’re very hard to chew, and no flavor.” we were laughing then too, because it was so hard to chew them- it felt like our teeth might break. “people chew these to keep their bodies warm while climbing mount everest. you know mount everest?” he asked. yeah, i know mount everest. but not like you do!
what a different life- to begin in nepal, in a valley beneath mount everest, and ended up on the corner of orange and mary streets in lancaster, pa, usa. “our family still lives in nepal. we send them money, and soon maybe come here, too.”
so, while i could walk to lemon street market, or central market, or roaring brook market, like many other days, where i know the food is sourced correctly, well made, and better for me, not poison, where the ingredients are simple and healthier..
sometimes i want to give my money to the kind nepali man, who asks me if people say “it’s chilly outside”, who knows i’ll buy nutty bars if he has them, who explains how to stay warm climbing earth’s highest mountain as casual conversation.
and i just don’t want to apologize for it.
i’m just not sorry this time.
photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez



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