“With a Little Education” by Francesca Bell

Francesca Bell


This is what became of that homely high school boy
with the fine hands and big brain. He ended up sliding
his fingers all day into the vaginas of other men’s wives.
Expensive women who book six months in advance
to take off their clothes for him. He keeps them
waiting under a harsh light and thin sheet
before delivering their silver-spoon babies and bad news,
before roving his skilled hands over all that cheerful flesh
that used to be firmly out of his reach. They send him
flowers now and page him after hours, tell him
when their sex lives are painful or dry up entirely.
He coaches them to remind their deal-making,
deposition-taking husbands of the grave
importance of foreplay. He touches their sleeves
as they leave with what could only be mistaken
for tenderness, and smiles, knowing they wonder
what he does with his hands at night. How different
his landscape looks now: his rolling stool like a throne,
the world he has mastered spread glorious before him.
If only he had known, back when he was pimpled
and pained, that even the hearts of the beautiful burn
in the third trimester, and that age bursts
in without mercy on everyone, even those girls
as effervescent and confusing as champagne.
If only he could have imagined how easy
it would be, with a little education,
to wake each morning to a string of women
naked in his office and ready just for him.

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from Rattle #32, Winter 2009


Francesca Bell: “I write poetry in an attempt to draw as close as possible to the world around me and to the people in it. For me, poetry should be intimate, bare, wild, and a little ragged. If you can’t go for your own jugular, you shouldn’t write.” (website)

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