A Heart Thing

by Pat Foran

The day I decided to reimagine happiness, my tree-climbing dog died. A heart thing. I’m so sorry, Philip, I said to my tree-climbing dog. I’m sorry. The backyard pine trees, tall and barkless, were his to climb; the birches, pale and paperless, mine to protect. The treeline kept us honest, kept us hopeful, like a bundle of unaddressed letters. All the places those letters could go. All the places we could go, Philip and me. My heart, I said to Philip. My heart.

The day I decided to reimagine my heart, the treeline took a powder, and Pantone® revealed Very Peri, a color with courageous presence, had been named Color of the Year. Could my heart take a powder? Be courageous? Probably not, I said to the hole in the sky where the treeline used to live. My heart is a scented-marker-sketched emoji. The flagpole-sitting capital of these United States. A cowardly shot of rhythm and Very Peri blues.

The day I decided to reimagine love, I met a mountain-climbing dog named Ficus. Climb with me, Ficus said, climb with me. We’ll climb higher than the treeline, Ficus said. You can see things up there, Ficus said. I imagine you can, I said. I imagined Philip, in a periwinkle sweater, climbing a barkless pine as tall as a tale. I imagined an unpeeled birch, higher than a flagpole and happy as hope. I imagined a heart as brave as a color splash imagining a treeline that wasn’t a line so much as a light, finking on the ferocity of love. We’ll climb with you, I said to Ficus. Me and my heart.


Pat Foran celebrates The Color of the Year unveiling by listening to bedroom pop songs of lo-fi bliss and blue cheer. His work has appeared in Trampset, Wigleaf, X-R-A-Y and elsewhere. Find him at neutralspaces.co/patforan/ and on Twitter at @pdforan.

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