My heart has an Embassy

Jennifer Maiden

copyright ©Jennifer Maiden 2012

My heart has an Embassy
for Ecuador where I will seek
asylum. Earthquakes
and aftershocks undermine
my hope and my means to work
and the Americans
have wormed into my psyche
with their black knack at fear.
My heart has an Embassy
for Ecuador as rare in air
and sumptuous as the Andes,
as clear as the Equator. There
will be in it waterfalls
and jungles like salvation.
There will be friends
whom I owe nothing, no
famed bail, no knotty
knowing sexualities. My heart
has an Embassy for Ecuador
where there will be no secrets
and the truth falls down like water
from giant granites of despair.

Notes on the Poem

The narrator of Jennifer Maiden's "My heart has an Embassy" is seeking psychic and possibly physical refuge or escape, from troubles characterized as everything from "earthquakes and aftershocks" to "giant granites of despair." The echoes of news ripped from the headlines that resonated when this poem was originally published still sound, it seems, as we revisit it at the end of 2016. It's useful but perhaps not essential to know that controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in mid 2012, and has remained there to this day. (His escapades and myriad interpretations of his oppression versus culpability spill forth from any simple Google search.) Although the poem has much more resonance with background on the Assange story, the embassy clearly yearned for here can be any form of sanctuary for a besieged heart and psyche. In fact, while Julian Assange's shelter is in a brick building in London, the narrator of Maiden's poem luxuriates in sanctuary that is immense, without boundary and freeing rather than confining: "as rare in air and sumptuous as the Andes, as clear as the Equator. There will be in it waterfalls and jungles like salvation." Intimating the complexities of Assange's particular dilemma - including the "famed bail" and "knotty knowing sexualities" - is the narrator suggesting her own need for respite is equally complicated? Repeating "My heart has an Embassy" almost like a mantra, it seems that when ... "there will be no secrets and the truth falls down like water from giant granites of despair" ... she will have found her safety, comfort and panacea. As "the truth falls down like water", she passes no judgement, but perhaps wishes comparable peace for Assange and other beleagured souls, perhaps including ourselves.

2 Replies to “My heart has an Embassy”

  1. This is a wonderful poem, each time I read ‘My Heart Has An Embassy’ the poem deepens and I get more from it, there are even echoes of Wallace Stevens:
    My heart has an Embassy
    for Ecuador as rare in air
    maybe its even a word that makes me think of Stevens, but this is such an original Jennifer Maiden poem, and a lyrical one. Thanks for reminding me of it once more.

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