Francesca Bell


The Sound When the Held Note Ceases

 
Tonight, thirty years late, I contemplate
his dark head cradled in my lap,
teen-aged boy from band snuck back with me
to our grade school playground,
middle of a bitter night,
and him telling me he’d been adopted
twice, and me considering the mother
who gave him up, one who died
when he was two, and finally one who lasted,
her voice cool when I’d called
for him that afternoon.
 
We sat cross-legged in the cold
as he pulled open the heavy doors
of my coat and made quick work
of my buttons, solving easily
the puzzle of the front clasp
on my bra. He sighed to see
my breasts spring free,
pale and rising in the frigid air—
then leaned across my lap
and settled in, my arms around him,
his body stretched upon the frozen ground.
 
His lips grazed one nipple
before enveloping it, as I’d watched him hold
each woodwind he prepared to play.
When he began to suck,
his eyes slid shut, one hand slack
above my heart.
Other mouths had touched me there,
but none ever pulled this sweetness up.
It welled in me like sorrow, or satiety,
like tears one almost weeps.
 
So far beyond desire—I nursed him
in the moonlit schoolyard and felt a hollowing
hunger I couldn’t name, a wistful, tender longing
even thirty years would fail to slake.
I held him, rocking a little, as we fell
through the ravenous, murmuring dark
of our separate aches.




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Artwork on this page:
Detail of Making your appearance
8 x 10" oil on clayboard
Irene Hardwicke Olivieri
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