Teresa Leo: The Heart has the Capacity to Break and  

   Reset a Million Times

But it’s the million and first, say,
that begins in a cab to Woodside, Queens

with a hockey player, who’s also a musician
and a city planner, who might be a one-night stand,

but he’s the best kisser you’ve come across
in years, with a face that’s all elegy and nostalgia,

edges but smooth, the Mekong Delta in June,
the mouth, clementines flown in from another country,

what only stays on the shelves briefly before
it disappears for a year, and before you know it,

everything in you is moving in his direction,
your head gravitates to his chest, his fingers,

anywhere you can hear a stress or a pulse,
until the 4/4 beat becomes 6/8ths,

a compound time signature,
because he’s every place you’ve ever

climbed or crawled that knocked the wind out,
like the Grand Canyon or the Cu Chi tunnels,

a vapor that expands to fill even the largest
of rooms, and you can’t breathe, in this cab,

going to his apartment, you’re 18 again
in some kid’s parents’ basement listening to Dylan

for the first time, stoned, or maybe not stoned,
it’s that lead singer voice whispering in your ear

across 42nd Street and through the Midtown Tunnel,
and now you’re 16 riding in the back of a Senior’s car,

making out but not the way you did at 16;
he could be taking you anywhere, but he’s taking you

back to a time before you ever fell in love,
before any transmutations of the heart,

resetting its counter, and he makes up
for every football player who ever left any girl

sitting at a table at the Junior prom to dance
with the head cheerleader, because tonight,

you are 14 and you’ve carried his hockey stick
through the streets of New York, the way at 14

you carried the quarterback’s cleats to the bus,
and even though in the morning he’ll take you

to the platform to get the train back to the city,
even though you’ll both become 40 again

by the time the train rolls into the station,
even though he’ll say this but no further

just as you turn to board, tonight, in this cab,
you are 13, your bodies unbearably strung,

lips unendurably ready, and when he leans in,
everything else in the world is forced to evacuate,

when he leans in, you are both young and beautiful
without even a trace of sadness.



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