Outside the machine, the bleeding hearts trace
the lifeline across the palm of my hand.
Are they dancing or do I make it so?
I am seven-years-old, not again but


on my way from school

in a yellow gingham dress edged in lavender.

“Danny likes you,” calls a boy behind me.
It can’t be true. My heart feels different.
Like a butterfly in the spring garden,
it dances in the locket of my soul.


near the gateway now

in a yellow gingham dress edged in lavender,

the bleeding hearts cross my palm and I shout
across the space between us, “He does not!”
Inside my spirit, hope sings. I feel love
for a boy with freckles and reckless joy.

Inside the machine, I set the table
for a family that would sail away
without me. There is not much time to breathe.
“Stay off the dock,” my mother says. “Today
a boy was drowned. His name was Danny.”


across the threshold

in a yellow gingham dress edged in lavender,

the sound of knives and forks became a song
cutting through the evening. “I like you too,”
I whisper. “Did you know him then?” she asked.
The wings within my soul drew round him close.

Outside the machine, the sun is brighter
Moments live here and they stay forever.
They cannot be painted or imagined.
The locket holds the bleeding hearts and love

Still dances along the palm of my hand.


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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Oh such a wonderful feeling of a love lost by not just any boy drowning, but someone who meant a lot to you as a little girl. Your heart must have sunk along with him, when you found out the news. You eloquently displayed it in this beautiful tribute to love lost ,and to depths of dspair locked within the machine.

  2. Thank you for your very sensitive comment, Vincent. I am grateful that I was young enough to know that he would be with me always in that other place… outside the machine. To this day, it is real to me.

  3. Beautiful! Remember the pain of losing someone special……

  4. Thank you, Martie. It’s a different world when we are children and sometimes those memories whisper until we remember.

  5. Often in life we are left with the question of “Why” Some event are more painful than others, be thankful his spirit lives on through you… you have such a soft compassionate heart my friend.


  6. Thank you very much, Rolly. He does indeed live within my heart and always will. Together, we are forever seven. 🙂

  7. Quite honestly this is one of the most tenderly heartbreaking and beautifully written piece I’ve ever read. Astonishing how you knit the reader’s heart with your own.

  8. Thank you, Sherry. I’ve carried his smile for years and it seemed right to remember him this way.

  9. Wow, Alexandra. This was very touching and the style and imagery of the piece is magnificent. You drew me into your memory and emotions. Very nice indeed.

  10. Thank you, Wayne. I’m glad it spoke to you that way and really appreciate the comment 🙂

  11. Very beautiful poem with a lot of personal symbolism. That’s the beauty of good poetry. It leaves you with a taste in your mouth, a color in your heart, and an understanding that can only be intuited. Thank you for posting this.

  12. This one is intensely personal, not that others less so, but there are places in the heart that are held closer. I’m glad you had that experience with it – thank you so much!

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