by Francesca Bell
Featured Art: “The Sea of Memory and Forgetfulness” by Madara Mason
I always knew
a man waited for me somewhere
with hands that fit the particular curves
of my treacherous body.
Whether I watched for him or not.
Whether I believed.
Sometimes, in dreams, he entered me from above,
like a coffin lowered slowly into a grave.
Sometimes he held me hard from behind.
The hills scorched golden each summer.
My hair was streaked the color of dried-dead grass.
People said I was lucky to have it.
Every year, moths fluttered
against the trees’ dark trunks as I passed,
like scraps of parchment.
An infestation that maybe would, maybe would not, kill the oaks.
I dared myself to wonder
around which bend
would he find me.
Wherever I looked were signs.
The steep ridge, a gray fox hunting
at the slough’s edge, V of geese going over.
World of enchantment,
and I wandered precarious,
my steps disturbing the air,
their small sound like beads
counting out prayers.
Trip-trap, my feet carried me along.
Almost to where he stood.
Waiting that day in shadow,
white towel obscuring his face
like a veil.
His satchel was slung, open, over one shoulder.
It was yellow, the color of caution.
Every girl, I thought, has a man like that.
Pacing her ledges with his bag of tricks.
for her arrival.
His hands were sheathed
in royal blue Latex.
Like a doctor prepared for a procedure.
By the time I saw him,
he was so familiar
I almost forgot to run.
Francesca Bell is a poet and translator. Her work appears in North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, and Tar River Poetry. She is the co-translator of Palestinian poet Shatha Abu Hnaish’s collection, A Love That Hovers Like a Bedeviling Mosquito (Dar Fadaat, 2017), and the author of the poetry collection Bright Stain (Red Hen Press, 2019). She lives in Novato, California.