The man keeps telling me I am beautiful.
I still look young.
He says it like I’ve asked for it,
but I don’t care.
For him or beauty.
I am content to slip into old,
to walk on unimpeded.
I was young once.
My body stunned.
My breasts were really something,
but I was something else entirely.
Something no one one could see
Francesca Bell from What Small Sound, Red Hen Press, 2023
The poem above comes from Francesca Bell’s latest book, only her second collection, but her poems have been making waves in recent years appearing in many journals, notably Rattle, where she has been featured in the Poets Respond series and where she won the Neil Postman Prize for metaphor.
Like wildfire smoke, loss hangs over the poems of of What Small Sound (loss of innocence, of bodily and mental health, to name a few) but like smoke, sometimes these losses can retreat leaving the landscape still there, fully revealed, still holding on.