Chelsea Christine Hill | Poetry

The X, in days of holy rule, could tell a man

where to press his lips to parchment. Then,

versions of the Immaculate Heart showed

Mary courting it in hand, or gesturing, palm

flat, to her flaming chest. The day Elliott Smith died

I was 13, in detention, in Texas, linking names

with ♥s on college rule. I kept love notes—

folded, pencil smeared—in a box beneath my bed.

No bed of fire or attendant angels. No X to dash

off desire’s farewell bid. Before I wrote love

poems, I burned CDs & replayed XO, never tired

of You’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good

across my lips. Under a room’s fluorescent grid,

scalpel catching light, our teacher said the cardioid

is common in nature, & we’d make our Xs on

the hearts’s small rooms. When I hear of Smith’s

death, later, in California, I imagine a cross tilted

into the valve. Sword in the chest. & if

we are to believe Baudrillard, then when I hear

Smith musing, faint, from my jacket, in class, it is like

every undelivered note I’ve ever written aflame

in your hand. & I’ve never told you: when I held

the sheep’s heart, I imagined my hidden ♥s

&, ashamed, put my finger in every O that I could find.