My Heart's Tenant

Words || Justine Hyde

You enter. Your pupils yawn wide, pores dilate, and jaw slackens. You are parched for light in an ocean of darkness.

You are standing on the edge of a precipice; anchored to miles of flat earth; stepping into a turbulent rip; held fast in safe harbour.

Your breath is measured. Oxygen inches into your cells, igniting them. You hold the whole world here; become the universe.

You exhale light, a fistful of comets. The particles burst and crystallise, a garland of fairy lights. Your faceted reflection echoes around the glinting interior of the right atrium.

The terrain is shifting, bleeds and becomes molten. 

You remember summer afternoon storms and it feels like being caught in the waiting space between lightning and thunder and you wonder why all of your favourite spaces are the in-between ones.

The sound. You sense the metrics in your chest, the metronome in the souls of your feet; the bass beat in the backs of your eyes. It skips in and out of time with your own heartbeat. You breathe short, sharp breaths; you inhale deeply and slowly, trying to align the rhythms. You are submerged in the sound; it is a discordant harmony.

You look back where you came from but all you see are unraveling threads trailing behind you like tentacles. You are changing shape, losing form, and becoming fluid. You are glittering, medusian, a jellyfish. You are bell and tentacles, chiming beauty and fatality. You flash a million cells coiling with venom, floating translucent in invertebrate dreaming.

You lose yourself to the current, carried on a pulsing tide from right atrium to right ventricle via the tricuspid valve, summonsed for expulsion through the pulmonary artery. You do not want to go; you resist the pull of circulation. You become aware of your muscles, flex and contract them. You push against the cardiac muscle, against the current, away from the beckoning pulmonary artery. You remain contained in the chamber of the right ventricle, the pathway to the lungs. You dam the blood’s passage to oxygen.

You incite dissonance in your wake. You become loaded with the roar of cardiac valves pumping to expel you, a cacophony of protest from oxygen-starved cells rushing past. Your muscles stretch and contract to resist the tide. Your tentacles reach out to anchor you; they wind through the right atrium, through the superior and inferior vena cava. The heart’s arrhythmic contractions struggle to eject you. Your tentacles unfurl via the aortic and mitral valves, into the left atrium and left ventricle, into the body via the aorta, the pulmonary artery and pulmonary vein. Your parasitic branches invade the veins, arteries and capillaries. You pierce through membrane and muscle; tear through tendon and sinew; climb the trellis of the body. You thread through the lungs; twist through the kidneys; reel through the liver. 

You snake through the brain and weave yourself to vitality.

You are my heart’s tenant.