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child-heart: poems by Isabel Chenot

Updated: Jun 11, 2022

dewy flower, image by Myriam Zilles, on Pixabay


“For You are our Father though Abraham does not know us” (Isaiah 63:16).

The child-heart in me cries

from long ago

when I was broken to a legacy

of sorrow.

The child-heart in me cries

afraid of nights.

With unhushed nightmares, unkissed hurts,

the grown-up fights.

The child-heart in me cries

but no one hears,

or if they do — no arms can gather in

my clench-fist years.

The child-heart in me cries.

Much of me’s false,

but my last sound

will be the sobbing of my pulse.

The child-heart in me cries

and cries and cries

its undeterred

first trauma, heartache, hunger-word:





mountains-greyscale, by Isabel Chenot


The wind that blew the grasses

blew my hair.

There was a moon-curve and a mountainside.

I was as small as grass, as slanted

through the air.

— I think I was as beautiful.

The earth was breathing. And the atmosphere

was pressing love down on the little things that grew,

till we became intelligible.

Until I queried life, and knew.

Life came as clear

as prayer.

We had not wandered

to arrive, but there

below the moon —

I was.

A cowpath shone.

I told you

I was glad to be alive.


~ “Woman”

“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1)

I am a woman who was drawing water at the common well,

one noon —

my life too common and confused in all its convoluted steps to tell —

though I had started seeking something true.

But I was false.

And every step I ever took, I fell;

and I had given up;

and I was merely coming to draw water at the well.

But you were drawing, all my convoluted way,

up till that noon.


I am a woman who was taken in my course of day,

and dragged into your court, accused.

I stood there 'til the other voices died away:

you asked for my accusers,

and I answered “No one” — while my heart said,


But you defended.

The sentencing

was your voice, telling me the past had ended.

I was new.


I am a woman who was weeping in a garden

by a tomb —

and no one understood what I was seeking,

what I had buried in my years.

Not even I could fully understand

all of those tears.

You called me from the earliest garden, “Woman”;

asked me why I wept, whom I was seeking.

All that I had known in part

was in your voice.

When you asked, I knew

the thing that died and broke my heart

and I said, You.

My heart said,



Isabel Chenot’s work has appeared before in Spirit Fire Review, as well as in

Indiana Voice Journal, Assisi, Avocet, and Blue Unicorn, among other journals.

For a preview of West of Moonlight, East of Dawn, her retelling of an old fairy tale,

August 2021 issue

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