Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

“Heartstrings,”–a poem by Daniel Holland


In the early years of my relationship with Daniel--we were together for nine years--we went up North to a weekend Sufi dance camp, invited by a friend. This is in fact, how we met. We met on Valentine's Day in 1998 at Sandra Wade's healing arts studio where Barbara Christwitz led circle dances. Daniel couldn't tell one foot from another and Barbara, usually so patient, became exasperated. She leaned down to pick up his feet to show him how. I led my "Good Morning" song afterwards, and Daniel fell in love.

At the weekend dance camp they had a talent show on Saturday night. I asked Daniel if he'd perform some of his comedy. We started looking at his journals, and I noticed some pieces with similar themes and tones that could be pulled together. This is what he read that night. We hadn't thought of it as a poem, but afterwards many beautiful women came up to tell him, "Oh, what a wonderful poem," and swoon over him. He could have had his pick of the harem that night, but he chose me. After all, I found his poem for him! Here it is, "Heartstrings."--JGR

by Daniel Holland

When I couldn’t read or talk anymore,
I had to rely on my heart for answers
to survive this age of reading and talking.
I had nothing left, but to open my heart.

I only know three words. “I love you.”
Can I get by with these three words?

I put my heart on a string and feel
my heart go up and down, like a yo-yo.
As the yo-yo goes down, I feel the stretching of the string.
As the yo-yo goes up, I feel the string recoil.

What happens to my string when the yo-yo gets stuck and spins?
How long will the string last?
Will you help my yo-yo ride smoothly on the string?

Locked in a dark room with coats hanging above me.
Crunched up in the corner to avoid stepping on the shoes.

Coats and shoes know life outside the closet.
But, now I am inside, like a baby in a womb.

Please unlock the door and let me be born into the light.
Let me be free. Let the coats and the shoes be in the closet.

Do people put webs around their lives?
I don’t want to do that. I can’t do that.
I do it, if you do it.

Why be a spider, when you can be a bird?

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1 Responses »

  1. This poem is so vulnerable and open...yes, "heart on a string"...I think we've all known that feeling.

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