December 8, 2013

Francesca Bell

WHERE WE ARE MOST TENDER

Mostly love is about grunt work,
heaving unwieldy pieces of furniture
up a trackless mountain,
the heat and humidity punishing,
mosquitoes ravenous. They bite
where we are most tender
and can’t slap with our full hands.

We love with our restraint, lying
silent through bitter nights,
doing the left-foot right-foot trudge
of resentment:
our hearts like Indian guides
leading stupid white settlers
into wilderness.

They don’t even turn
to check if we’re there—
they know we’ll follow.

from Rattle #40, Summer 2013

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Francesca Bell: “I wrote ‘Where We Are Most Tender’ after a spectacular disagreement with my husband. We were several years and many long nights into our marriage before I learned to take love’s measure, not in sweetness shared, but in savagery withstood and moved beyond.” (www.francescabellpoet.com)