“Conduction” by Francesca Bell

Francesca Bell


The man drives as closely to my car 
as he can without making contact. 
His truck window is down. 
He is taking my right of way,
and I’m driving home, already crying,
from the audiologist’s office. 
I’ve turned on the music 
and have just been thinking
that somewhere in Denmark, 
an engineer lays her head
on a pillow filled, perhaps,
with eiderdown, her mind stuffed
with equations she mastered
in order to write the code
for the music setting on my 
new hearing aids. They cost me
as much as a used car 
and will not rejuvenate
my cilia, cannot rebuild
this foundation that gradually
crumbles, but they have
resurrected, for this moment, 
the voice of the trumpet 
and polished its bright tones.
I cannot conceive 
of how the years she bent 
to her math books resulted
in this flashing beauty,
but I lean on it
the way a person leans
on a crutch when her knee
has given out, the way
I lean on Telemann who wrote
this concerto almost 300 years ago,
each note big enough
to compensate—across time—for loss, 
for the man passing slowly by,
menace blaring from his eyes, 
as, triumphant, he raises
his middle finger like a baton. 

from Rattle #78, Winter 2022
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist


Francesca Bell: “I write poetry in order to record the world’s strange symphony of abundance and loss, so I can play it back and try to make sense of it.” (web)

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