Heather Bell
It Takes Awhile

1
It takes awhile to notice the room's shade.
It takes awhile to notice the people who enter the room,
smiling a little, not too much.
It takes awhile to notice your head going up in smoke and mirrors.
It takes awhile to notice you no longer have hands.

This is important: the moment when you no longer had hands.
But it still takes you awhile to notice that when you touch people,
they feel like people you dream of.
It takes you awhile to notice that the Japanese word for love
is written on your last bank statement.
It takes you awhile to notice the many trees in the neighborhood
have given up.
It takes you awhile to notice others who have given up:

your village of skin, the newspaper, the meat-knives,
the most direct route home.  
It takes you awhile to notice that someone is facing you,
holding a dead duck and a shuttered window.
It takes you awhile to notice that you have not folded one thousand origami swans.
It takes awhile, the carp flapping its lips in the kitchen.
It takes awhile to notice the dead plants.  The voyagers selling cocaine.
The chokecherry necklace.  The instant of snarl in the pipes.

It takes you awhile to notice you are standing.
It takes a machine to hold you up.
It takes awhile to open you like an excavated city.
It takes three days to realize it was yourself at the edge of the stairs.
Standing.  Standing, slapping your face like damp smolder.



2
My mother used to end every sentence with "but" as though she was about to compare whatever she was saying with something better.

My mother kept a secret notebook and I found it in my closet when I was seventeen. There were all these pictures she drew of my father dressed up like Ted Kaczynski.



3
I started a secret notebook last year but.

All I ever wrote was


I WANT TO DIE
I WANT TO DIE
I WANT TO DIE
I WANT TO DIE

BUT



4
It takes me awhile to sort out the Proust from the moments when my hair spread around me like a wet flower.  It takes me awhile to sort out the turkey buzzards from the Blue Press magazines.  It takes me awhile to sort out the spies from my family driving down a one way street in the cold.



5
How often I have wanted to tell you that your face reminds me of a National Geographic guidebook.  We keep quiet in these moments.  It is as though two trucks are converging on us, crushing us and we had enough time to say I love you, but instead just stared at each other like two deer.  

It takes us awhile, but we do eventually tell each other how life has treated us, underneath a bust of George Washington.  

I touch his mouth and you touch his eyes and I want to taste you as if you are a wild furious plum.  But we are silent, standing there at the top of a staircase, too frightened to find a new way to love, too chicken-shit to stop fearing this one.



6
It takes you awhile to re-grow, says the starfish.
It takes you awhile to learn to hold your tongue and still speak.
It takes you awhile to let the forest wander you.
It takes you awhile to rip the breath from the hunger.
Rip the yellow from the bellied.  
Rip the night from what you have no memory of.  
Rip the life from the sentence.
The way you have of saying call me crazy,
rip it from the rest of what you were going to say and let it
stand there, stand there and do nothing.



          
  Heather Bell (nee Schimel) graduated in 2005 from Oswego State University in Oswego, NY.  Since, she has been published in Mannequin Envy, From East to West: BiCoastal Verse, Empowerment4Women, Ditch and Pomegranate, and has work forthcoming in Diet Soap and Barnwood.  She has also released two books of poetry, one available from Verve Bath Press, Nothing Unrequited Here, one available directly from the author How To Make People Love You. She spends her time polishing boots, gardening, painting and looking brightly at all raw stars.  Heather dedicates all her writing to JNB.  Without him, she never would have written any of it down.
                                               
                                               
 © Heather Bell  All Rights Reserved