Featured Poem • September 2015
This is not the heart I would have chosen to give you, this ragged thing with topographical scars like splayed hands, like exposed nerves— trace me, map me learn the places I was flayed open, learn how I saved myself. This is me, four rounds chambered. Those scars, they call them rifling unique as a heart; you’d know me anywhere, my scars, my words my songs— in the heart of your chamber, hum, and I’m your resonant frequency, your sonic shadow. Listen: I have room for you. Every time I’ve torn I’ve grown. Rifle through me, await the ruling, I’ll wait; I will sing your way in.
Shira Lipkin has managed to convince Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Stone Telling, Clockwork Phoenix 4, and other otherwise-sensible magazines and anthologies to publish their work; two of their stories have been recognized as Million Writers Award Notable Stories, and they have won the Rhysling Award for best short poem. Their nonfiction has appeared at Salon. They credit luck, glitter eyeliner, and tenacity. They coedit Liminality, a magazine of speculative poetry, with Mattie Joiner. They live in Boston and, in their spare time, fight crime with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. Their cat is bigger than their dog.
About “Four Chambers,” they said, “In early 2014, I was emerging from the second of two abusive relationships in a row. I very deliberately carved out space and time to ground and center myself, to think about what I needed and wanted, to not get swept up in another toxic person’s intense and charismatic courtship. It was the best thing I could have done for myself, and I emerged from it renewed and with purpose, albeit still scarred.
“And then I started chatting with Mattie Joiner, who was shy and magical and lovely, and they gave me back parts of myself I didn’t know I’d lost or given up on. And, given that Mattie is a poet themselves, it was natural that our shy courtship would take the form of exchanges of poems.
“I would have preferred to give a whole, undamaged heart, but this is what I had. Small. Broken. Still good.” ♡
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