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- Galbo, Sebastian
Summary:Melvin Dixon’s poem, “Heartbeats”, portrays the steady atrophy of someone suffering a fatal disease. The anonymous narrator first appears as healthy and vigorous:
“Work out. Ten Laps.
Chin ups. Look good.
Sweetheart. Safe sex.”
An undisclosed illness takes hold and the narrator copes with the impacts of a life-threatening disease:
Reds thin. Whites low.”
S/he calls home, diets, tries to calmly recuperate, and focuses on maintaining peace of mind, “Breathe in. Breathe out.” The reality of death, or “It,” cannot be ignored, “Today? Tonight? / It waits. For me.” Dixon uses wordplay for “sweetheart” to bookend the poem.
In the third stanza, the narrator affectionately addresses his/her lover as “Sweetheart”; but, through battling the illness and experiencing its withering effects, Dixon cleaves the word in two in the final stanza, imploring the body to withstand the disease: “Sweet heart. / Don’t stop.”