Mackenzie Studebaker

My Heart

As a six year old, my heart is mended. I am born with a broken open heart.

Being so young at the time of the slice my main focus is getting to choose the flavor of the oxygen mask that will aide my life-support. Bubblegum is the obvious choice for my 1st-grade self. My lifeless-like naked girl body lay out like a horizontal Jesus on the cross. Surgeons cut open my chest and my rib cage blooms to expose the young heart that is working harder than it needs to be. They stitch up my mystical rhythm maker on ice, lying beside my bare body form.

We are still connected, my bodyheart, even when we are apart.

All the while bubblegum-flavored oxygen oozes into every cell, flooding consciousness with an uninhibited flow.

The dream of that operation is still the most vivid in texture and memory in all my life, 22 years later. Wildly literal and imaginative. Swimming naked in rich Technicolor blue ocean waters, the temperature womb-like with salt-infested buoyancy. A safe haven for my consciousness to be held and whole.

I float to an island with Sahara desert sand and SpongeBob-like palm trees. I lay out in the sun and attach to a giant cube of thick pink Bubblelicious Bubblegum.

Stuck, and not miserable. Warmed by the sun; open-hearted. I don’t know separation and I am separate from it. Safe on an island of my own making.

My physical form and vital insides are seen operated on and in a way violated as they are never meant to be. My safe dream space interweaves an in-the-body and out-of-body experience.

Bodyheart consciousness.

Bodyheart knows where home is.

I wake up with feeding tubes and fuse to the pain.

But my bodyheart knows where home is.

Five senses back online, sweet illusion, and we forget.

Ms. Berman my schoolteacher comes to visit me in the hospital. She brings me Jenga and I collapse from exhaustion before the wooden block tower does. An apple- polisher already I fade against my will, the smiling and entertaining too much exertion for my mending heart, stitches raw and fresh





Mackenzie Studebaker is a San Francisco based queer poet and writer. Mackenzie is influenced

by mystics like Hafiz and Patti Smith. Their debut novel, We Don’t Need the Treehouse, is a poetic

memoir about death, dying and grief. Studebaker’s work has been featured

with Weird Women Zine and Red Light Lit, and is thrilled to share their work with The Los Angeles Press. 

Instagram @idntwantto