She says, Mama, I feel two beats on each side of me, so I think I have two hearts. I answer, When I was a little girl I read about the earth and the way it spins. Then at night when I lay in bed beside the big window in my room, and the crickets and cicadas sung to me through the dark while the scent of honeysuckle crawled past the window’s sash, I’d have moments where I felt myself spun too, whirling very fast, as if I’d returned to that playground ride where the older kids kept running the carousel faster and faster, and eventually I whipped into the air, a little flag of blonde hair and corduroy snapping to and fro, my scream lost in the wind. I thought I was going to die. I’d recall that chaos, that lost control, later when I’d been tucked into my sheet and my hair smoothed and my mother sang goodnight. When she left the room I became the axis on which the world spun, whirling with it and growing dizzy from insect song and the scent of flowers opening in the humid dark. It is amazing what the mind draws forth. I tell her, I like your two hearts. I imagine they are birds, though I will tell you about your blood and the way it carries a word, repeated, through the pathways of your body. I want you to believe me. And yet, I want for you those summer nights, too, when you lie awake and imagine all the ways you don’t.

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SARAH KAIN GUTOWSKI is the author of Fabulous Beast (Texas Review Press), runner-up for the 2018 X.J. Kennedy Prize and a 2019 Foreword INDIES Finalist, and Fabulous Beast: The Sow, a chapbook (Hyacinth Girl Press). She has attended the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Sicily, Western Michigan University’s Prague Summer Program, and the Southampton Writers Conference Script Development Lab. She holds an MFA in poetry from New York University and a BA in English and Mass Communications from James Madison University. Her writing has been published in various print and online journals, including The Threepenny Review, So To Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Gettysburg Review, Verse Daily, and The Southern Review. As a professor of English at Suffolk County Community College, she has co-chaired the annual SCCC Creative Writing Festival for over a decade. She lives on the south shore of Long Island with her husband and their circus of children and dogs.

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