December 6, 2011

Francesca Bell

FIRST RESPONDERS

The day I finally rose staggering
from our bed of kryptonite,
gnawed free from the anchor
that dragged its own boat down
with it, and walked out,
you stopped me in the drive
to set one thing straight:
were I to sleep, even once,
with anyone else, you would never,
ever, ever take me back.

It wasn’t hard to arrange that very day
and many, many days after,
that whole long spring and summer,
and sometimes more than once a day
when I felt like it, to take a man,
pretty much any man, to bed
or the shower or the high-rise
office building floor. Having been,
despite years of accusations and interrogations,
as steadfast and inert as a corpse,

I began slowly to revive, each man’s hands
on me like a paramedic’s feeling
for a pulse, their mouths bent
on resuscitation, their bodies thrusting
up inside me insistently the way a doctor
pushes and pushes on a stopped heart
trying to turn it back on, every stroke
powering a stroke of my own leaden arms
fighting, struggling from down deep
through thick, sucking water
as I fucked my way upward,
one man at a time, and came
bursting, breathless, back to life.

from Rattle #35, Summer 2011

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Francesca Bell: “As Stephen Dunn says, and as I tell my mother, the fact that something actually happened would be the very worst reason to write a poem about it.” (website)