Conductor of Vitality

Lindsey Heatherly


When my youth was massacred in broad daylight,
they shoved a beetle down my throat to preserve any
remnants of vitality that might be of use.
The beetle crawled down my esophagus, burrowed
a small hole, and began playing my heartstrings
as if they were a cello in the orchestra
composing an instrumental score for my life.
At times, the melody was cheerful, and my legs
would dance and skip along to the strings,
but most of the time it was a soft, slow strum,
reflecting the rainstorm in my brain.
One night I was awakened by a thump, thump, thump,
so I searched all the rooms, coming up short.
The incessant thumping was silenced by
powerful coughs as I choked and I heaved,
frantically trying to catch my breath. I ran to the bathroom,
hands bracing me over the sink, as I coughed up
pieces of the beetle that were once intact. I swished my
mouth out with water, rinsing the bits down the drain,
and I turned off the light and crawled back into bed.
When my head hit the pillow, I realized the music
was gone. I laid in the dark, overwhelmed
by uncomfortable, harrowing silence.



Lindsey Heatherly is an aspiring poet masquerading as a pharmacy professional in an inpatient psychiatric hospital, and spends her time at home raising a strong, confident daughter. When she’s not working or parenting, you can find her writing and editing her works, reading, or snuggling up with her one-eyed cat.