“Have You Forgotten” by Heather Bell

Heather Bell


Have you forgotten
the bowl of fish that you left
in the refrigerator last year and how long

you waited for me to gut and scale?
Two weeks, maybe, until it started to stink

and the fins curled over like
a woman’s eyelid
closing. It has always been what I did not do

instead of what I did, which is:

going to the field behind
our house to watch

a young woman be raped. We like to think

that in such a situation that we

would become made of wild boar to charge in

but I am a woman too and

I walked home quietly
with my eyes only open to a slit,

like the size of two small wounds
like the size of sharp small stones
that are pushed by waves over sea glass

shaping it.

from Kill the Dogs
2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize Selection


Heather Bell: “Once upon a time there was a six-foot-tall woman with blue hair and a sense of smallness. In her house was a teacup saying ‘girl, you got this!’ and on her wall was a kitten hanging from a clothesline. The kitten’s word balloon said something like, ‘Hang in there!’ or ‘Don’t let go!’ Always something with an exclamation mark. Isn’t that the moral of the story, always? There is always a small woman, hiding her grandness, trying to fill up on uplifting wordplay. But today, this small woman sits down and writes a poem in which she details her smallness and why she came to be that way. Another small woman reads it, and from the tip of her hair a fire starts, but just as quickly dies. Isn’t that why we are here? To write another poem for a small woman to read, and then another. Until the amount of sparks are too much for the quick extinguishing, and she is a woman on fire, exploding into the world.”

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