A Special Message From Animal Heart Press Editor-In-Chief, Elisabeth Horan

Hi everyone - it's Eli here, Editor of Animal Heart -

I want to share this poem with you all. My Assistant Editor, Amanda McLeod, wrote this for me when I was very afraid, lost and feeling scared of the future and worried about losses I had endured. Amanda is not only my brilliant assistant here at Animal Heart, she is my mentee - we work on her poetry - & she is my touchstone when the world is spinning; she is a shoulder to lean on when I am sinking, and she is a sane and lucid voice when I am weary with decision making.

Above all, as you can see in this poem, she is my friend. Holds me up when I stumble. Catches me when I fall - I want the world to see the gifts she has given to - to me and the Press, selflessly and unconditionally,

And to remind us all of the power of a poem, to lift up a heart which is hurting. I know it
takes the heart of an animal - to give in this way <3  love, eli

by Amanda McLeod

When your heart is animal
skin stretched taut     across the frame
waiting     on the stick
to give sound or     purpose
to its rhythm. Stop waiting.     Feel
each beat, its pattern     perfect
a reminder     that life thrums
within you, a gift     a flame, that cannot be
extinguished.     Listen.

When your bones     ache
beneath     the weight of living
responsibility     piled on you like
cursed gold on a reluctant     king
a reminder     all  you desire has     a price.
See the muscle of your     spirit
strain under     the burden of constant use
growing     through the pain     lean

When these strengths     these escapes
are lost to you     when the abyss
feels endless, like it will     swallow you.
Listen.     At the mouth we gather     in vigil
singing you     back to the light.
Your eardrums are     filters
white noise     cancelled out.
The other voices, the ones     that say
worthless     inadequate     faulty
fade     until they are no more
than whispers     on yesterday's wind.
Wrap us around you     a blanket     a shield
until     you can hold yourself again.