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By Hailey Leithauser

The heart of a bear is a cloud-shuttered

mountain. The heart of a mountain’s a kiln.

The white heart of a moth has nineteen white

chambers. The heart of a swan is a swan.


The heart of a wasp is a prick of plush.

The heart of a skunk is a mink. The heart

of an owl is part blood and part chalice.

The fey mouse heart rides a dawdy dust-cart.


The heart of a kestrel hides a house wren

at nest. The heart of lark is a czar.

The heart of a scorpion is swidden


and spark. The heart of a shark is a gear.

Listen and tell, thrums the grave heart of humans.

Listen well love, for it’s pitch dark down here.


Source: Poetry (October 2015)

  • Living
  • Nature

Poet Bio

Hailey Leithauser
Hailey Leithauser originally took poetry workshops as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, but stopped writing for almost 20 years while she pursued a career as a librarian. Standing in front of a van Gogh painting during a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., she was inspired to return to writing, and eventually developed her own form, the small sonnet. Writing dense, compact poems packed with slant and full rhymes has taught Leithauser “to really exploit what you can do in a poem that is only 70 syllables long and that relies on rhyme to really carry it through," she told the Takoma Voice in an interview. Born in Florida, Leithauser lives in Takoma Park, Maryland. See More By This Poet

More By This Poet

Mockingbird

No other song
                    or swoop (part
       quiver, part swivel and
             plash) with
  tour de force
stray the course note
       liquefactions
   (its new,
bawdy air an
       aria hangs in) en-
thralls,
             trills, loops, soars,
                    startles, out-warbles,
out-brawns, more
       juicily,
                    lifts up
the dawn, outlaws from
                        sackcloth,...

By Hailey Leithauser

  • Living
  • Nature

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