“Narrow Openings” by Francesca Bell

Francesca Bell


A constant dripping on a day of steady rain
and a contentious woman are alike.
—Proverbs 27:15

It’s hot. The clouds’ soft faces
are closed, a billowing refusal,
and I want to quarrel
with my lover who just sits
risen dull from a bed we left
damp as horses that have run
for a long time. Hair hangs,
humid and tangled, on my neck,
but he won’t unlatch
the window. Doesn’t like
the noise, he says. I don’t
like him very much. I want
to argue until anger splits me
like flowers that burst across
my short dress. I choose
lipstick to startle him,
Ultra Violent, an assault
of color. He just watches,
his hair still holding
the shape of my hands. Raising
my legs, I let the mirror catch
me, throw him bare skin tingling
sweat. Going for a walk,
I say, slipping into the narrow openings
of sandals, smiling as anger rises
in his dim face. Down each block
I think of him pacing
the closed rooms, stupid and lovely.
Face glowing, I am an August peach.
And my feet slapping
the sidewalk are a dance
as good, as constant, as rain.

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004


Francesca Bell: “I live with my husband and two children on a sunny acre of hillside. We’ve a pumpkin patch, and barn owls nesting in the oak trees, and a red-tailed hawk that perches on our fence to contemplate the songbirds. I start poems for the same reason I toss seed into this rich, dark earth: to see what grows from what at first looks like nothing.” (web)

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