November 28, 2015

My Heart is a Glove Compartment. {A Poem on Fierce Pain and Fiercer Love}

Joshua Earle/Unsplash

It’s too big for my body.

So it breaks off into a hundred incoherent pieces
that I carry around with me
like dirty underwear that I found in the leg of my jeans after l already left home.

I try to hide them
similar to spreading food out on a plate when I was a kid
to make it look like I ate more than I actually did.

I try to fan out incomprehensible bits of unruly emotion
that make strangers ask why I’m so sad
and friends ask why I’m unrecognizable.

They’re so heavy

even when I try not to pick them all up at once—
so heavy
that they drag me to some underwater dimension
where everyone looks pixelated


maybe they’re fine
Maybe I’m the one made of squares that don’t make sense
or fit together nicely.

Because how can anything make sense
after Love and Death
have sat together in the cold
and burnt the map of my life
and all the other things they found
in the glove compartment of my heart
to keep their hands warm
that one night?

How can I go anywhere after that?

The only thing that makes any sense is the fluency of love that enabled me
to hear the world’s harsh need crying out to me in that language—
the tones and sounds that made me run into the burning house without a question
and emerge as something of a different shape, color, density, composition.

The pre-fire world does not speak those dialects
it does not recognize those shapes.
I ran into a burning house and came out
with bright, stinging ruby lips and charcoal, smoke-rimmed eyes
a scent that everyone responds to
an edge that I don’t know how to have.

I will put you right out between two fingertips
and keep burning
Even the tattoo that I got
in an attempt to feel strong and fierce
is broken.

How can a tattoo crack.
It just had to be honest, I guess.


There is freedom in knowing that you
have and can and will live through reality-warping pain
and still be tender. More tender than ever.
So tender that you’re reckless about it.
Belligerently tender.

It’s bullsh*t—the idea that “everything happens for a reason.”
Sometimes there is no reason. No redemption. No justification. Just senseless violence
Sustained loops in which our souls die alone and unredeemed night after night.


If my faith is going to be destroyed by something
family is the best thing I can think of
because our blood is thick enough that we can claw our own way to the top of it
and stumble out together
arms around broken bodies

and even though the blood will seep through our hands
our hands are God’s guilty little hands
because he
to drop in


we hold them to each other’s inconsolable wounds.


Author: Lizzie Rigotti

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Ryan Pouncy/Unsplash // Joshua Earle/Unsplash


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Lizzie Rigotti