“Animal Heart” by Ashleen McCullough

My heart is too fierce for the cage I keep it in. It bangs and threatens to break the bars of bone that hold it back. Each heartbeat is like an earthquake, rocking my body to the core. Everything is left just a bit out of place and there’s no time to fix it before it’s moved again.

My body quakes with passion and pain, an animal rocking its cage in its best attempt to escape. Escape the world, escape the experience, escape life. Nobody wants to die but certainly no one wants to live like this – body at odds with mind and heart at odds with society. Nothing makes sense – thoughts whirling, mind racing, heart beating, beating in my chest, beating my chest. It’s as though I am King Kong taking on the human race in an effort to be myself or to be by myself. In or out, ups and downs, swings that never stop, only get bigger the more I pump my legs, no matter how much I drag my feet. The merry go round is no longer merry but merely going round… and round… and round, and round and round and round androundandroundandround STOP. Stop the ride. Stop the world. I want off. I want to cease motion, cease moving, cease this horrible circle of inclusion and exclusion. Cease life, cease death, cease playing a game that stopped being fun once I learned all the rules. I thought I knew the rules. The rules are changing. The game is changing. I am changing. You are changing. Life is changing, never stopping. I only want to stop. We can never stop. The animal in my chest won’t let me stop.

There is a reason our ribs are cages, but that does not mean it can contain our wild animals that drive our lives forward, never allowing us to stop.

I only want to stop.

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