American Life in Poetry: Column 153


In this endearing short poem by Californian Trish Dugger, we can imagine “what if?” What if we had been given “a baker’s dozen of hearts?” I imagine many more and various love poems would be written. Here Ms. Dugger, Poet Laureate of the City of Encinitas, makes fine use of the one patched but good heart she has.

Spare Parts

We barge out of the womb   
with two of them: eyes, ears,   

arms, hands, legs, feet.   
Only one heart.  Not a good   

plan.  God should know we   
need at least a dozen,   

a baker’s dozen of hearts.   
They break like Easter eggs   

hidden in the grass,   
stepped on and smashed.   

My own heart is patched,   
bandaged, taped, barely   

the same shape it once was   
when it beat fast for you.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2006 by Trish Dugger. Reprinted from Magee Park Poets: Anthology 2007, No. 18, Friends of the Carlsbad City Library, 2006, by permission of Trish Dugger. Introduction copyright © 2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.