Back to Issue Six.




At thirteen, I watched him
from my bedroom window
in the brightness of his den.
Always at night, with my light off,
so he didn’t see me gawking
when he removed his white turban,
exposing the coil of hair he never cut.
He unwound it tenderly
because it was a gift from God.

My neighbor was highborn
and could not mow a lawn
or run a dishwasher. As a child,
he rode a red wagon downhill
and sat as his servant pulled him
back up. My parents taught me
how to work, but reverence
I learned from him.

How to uncover my blessings
by candlelight, house silent
as God, to peel away with care
my stiff jeans, blouse with many buttons,
panties a pure and blazing white.
I lingered over my brassiere,
its unclasping a relief like prayer,
and let slowly loose
my breasts, those miracles
risen finally on my waiting chest.

Francesca Bell’s work has appeared in many journals, including The North American Review, Rattle, 5 AM, Passages North, and The Sun. She has received two Pushcart Prize nominations, and her full-length manuscript was a finalist in The Poetry Foundation’s 2012 Emily Dickinson First Book Contest.