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The Questioning Bells

You already know how to silence them.

Summertime brought the buzzing,

slow moving skydivers in the corner of her room

The bedsheet, a veil between her little face

and the dipping invaders

So many nights sobbing quietly  

She said: Daddy, they’re going to hurt me

His toast,

his apple butter,

his reassuring voice

They won’t hurt you, they’re only mud daubers


The fever is too high, it’s an infection,

A campus nurse drove her to the doctor

Musty exam room, threadbare curtains, his quiet questions

She was dizzy-sick and the nurse had vanished

No one would protest his strange examination

Struggling to refasten her blouse buttons, she thought

Something has happened

But she smiled and laughed in the outer office

Thanks for the medicine


Pillow talk, the sky was moonlit August

What about this, what about that, why do you cause this menace

Quick, rough hands closing around her throat

His wedding band,

his sour breath,

his anger

He spoke, but she couldn’t make out any words

Stunned, crying, she called her brother

You’ve both been drinking,

are you bruised?

it’s the alcohol…

Forget it, if it didn’t leave a mark


Plant a little garden in a fishbowl

Stay busy, pressed against a trustworthy man

It is late in the day and night is falling, colder than before

Every breath, a halting safety

Tender little rabbits, this is the lesson

They sting.

It happened.

It left a mark.

Indignity, fear, and shame

are questioning bells

You already know how to silence them

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The Questioning Bells
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