THE INVISIBLE PEDDLER OF HEARTS

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“WHO STOLE your heart, dear?” a woman said to another
“I don’t know,” replied the disheartened woman, “I just don’t know…
One minute I had it, the next it was gone;
And who the thief was, I simply do not know – “

Finally I had compassion on her
And, making myself visible, confessed to her:
“I stole your heart, dear – “
“You? But who are you?”
“I am the invisible peddler of human hearts.”
“I want my heart back!”
“That’s not possible, dear,
I’ve already sold it to another woman
At a very high price
And made a huge profit for myself,
Especially when one considers the fact that
It wasn’t at all hard to steal it from you.”
“What! What! What!… you you…
And you exchanged my heart for just money?!”
“No, it wasn’t just for money at all, really…
The other woman was suffering terribly.
You see, her heart had been broken
And it refused to heal…
She needed another, and quick,
So she appealed to me in her heart,
Me, the invisible peddler of human hearts.”

The disheartened woman listened in shock and amazement,
Then asked:
“And how much did this other woman pay for my heart?”
“She paid with all her carefreeness
And so, now, though she has a heart
And though her pain is gone
Yet she has no real joy as well anymore –“
“Terrible! You monster! And then me! What about me!?
I need a heart too!
You can’t just steal and sell hearts that way!”
“You should have guarded your heart better, my dear.”
“I want to have a heart again,
For there is in me a creeping coldness now
Which I fear will eat away all my remaining warmth.”
“I can get you a new heart,
But it will cost you a lot – “
“I don’t want a new heart, I want
My old one back.”
“That will cost you much more,
Indeed almost everything you have,
Because the woman who has it now
Has placed it tightly under lock and key –
She has barred it up very securely indeed
Because she does not want it broken, or even
Scratched, in any way damaged, like her first one was.
Hearts are precious, and yours is especially beautiful, you know.”

The disheartened woman said:
“I don’t care what it costs me,
Just get me back my heart – “
“Okay, “ I replied, for she was in earnest.

At nightfall I returned to her with her heart – unscathed –
She reached for it –
“Oh no,” I said… “first you must
Marry me – “
“Marry you?! You thief?! Never!”
“Don’t be so heartless, dear maiden, please.”
“Don’t crack jokes about the aching gap in me – just give me
Back my heart, for I am not heartless…”
“Marry me.”
“I cannot.”
“Why not?”
“Because I do not love you.”
“How can you speak of love when you have no heart?”
“My heart is in your heart, please do not drop it.
I ache. There is pain in me, coldness and loneliness –
I need my heart back.”
“How can you speak of loneliness when you have no heart
with which to feel it?”
“My heart is always my heart,
Whether it be in your hands or
In another woman’s possession –
It is my heart
And when it hurts I hurt –
Please give me back my heart;
Our separation makes us lonely.”
“Dear woman,
Heartless though you are,
Yet are you precious too and clear –
Perhaps not all heartless people are evil,
Just disheartened…
But won’t you now share your heart
With the other woman – ?
Hers is sorely broken, it bleeds day and night
And her agony knows no end –
Won’t you help her? Give her a little of your heart?”
“Who or what could have so badly damaged a heart, I wonder…?”
“It was a lover that did it long ago,
One who loved her too much at the start
And too little at the end –
This confused and frightened her…
And she lost her balance, sought it desperately and briefly,
Found it not, and tripped over…
Her heart slipped out and fell –
Her heart is broken.”
“Then let us share mine, she and I,
At least until hers heals again – “
“Then I shall take you to her
and you shall, out of the fullness of your heart,
Comfort and strengthen her and teach her how to
Dance again.”
“So, you shall give me back my heart then… – ?”
“Aye, verily,
Even as I took it from you, whilst you were not looking,
So have I already given it back to you, even now, whilst we were talking
And you were again not looking……
Guard it, guard it better, dear, please, it’s a good heart;
And now come with me:
Let us go to the woman with the broken heart
So that you may fulfill your own part
Of the bargain –
If you will not marry me
Then you must heal a broken heart
Like you want to,
And you will thereby learn many lessons too,
And reap, too, a heartful of joy.”
“… my heart feels so different in me now… why?”
“Very simple, my dear. It has tasted love, loss and pain,
Has learned what it is, to give
And to need
And to be needed.”

And together we set off for the Broken Heart
And, just as she had promised to do,
She taught and comforted her and helped her
To dance again even with her heart…

And, job completed here, I made myself invisible again
And travelled on once more, another one in my heart,
Another heart in my destiny,
And I just as ignorant as before.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

11 thoughts on “THE INVISIBLE PEDDLER OF HEARTS

    1. Thank you, Susan, for reblogging.
      And thank you, Owls and Orchids, for the beautiful words. Glad you like it.
      – Aka Teraka.

      Like

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