Heather Bell

Things That Have Been Said

I looked like an abandoned
lighthouse after he left me.

Your instincts might tell you not to have
that baby.  Your instincts might tell you
that the end of love is only the beginning.  

This reminds me of when my father told you
he had an affair years ago, which is untrue.  
We so often bob listlessly out at sea and
no one comes by to rescue us.  We are waving
our arms and crying until we can’t wave our
arms or cry and our memories of flesh become

just memories of dust or lead-based paint on
a crib.  Your instincts may tell you to eat your
young, but you probably shouldn’t.

I was so content there, sitting like
a bony tribesman.  I watched you
while you slept and I think I started

to understand cannibalism.  Each tiny
eyelash as delicious as a bundt cake
or fig vine.  

You quote Thoreau: “In the long run,
men only hit what they aim at.”  
You also said that you’re a sucker
for a pretty face or a sucker punch
to the kidneys.  You like your men
beautiful and your women bruised.  

As we passed a woman on crutches
you touched me as though you knew
where I had been.

I have an airport cart for
all of your baggage and
we have places we need
to leave.

Think of a number.  Is it 6? No?
Maybe 5!  No.  2 then, you always
pick 2.  When you play these games
with me I get sad, like I can never
win.  As though you are a tiger

and I am a newborn calf.  As though
you have the ability to detach from
me like a retina.  You always choose

2, I should know by now.  2 black-
tipped hands from changing the oil,
2 renovated bodies, 2 of each of us,

imagining a billion years together,
failure after failure.

I am sorry that six months ago
I ignored your despair.

Both of us have always understood
that we aren’t going to be around
forever.  This has always been so

important.  I had an old girlfriend
who wore a beautiful camel-hair
coat everywhere, it was beautiful
and soft and she thought we could

find each other in the dark for
eternity.  But life isn’t like that.

It is such a privilege to kiss you
one more time.

You remind me of that cut-glass doorknob
at my grandmother’s house.  It never
turned in the way you would expect it
to or want it to.  As though you could
beg it to go right or turn around so you
could get in and it never would.

When I was about ten years old,
I remember there was a red rope sitting
in my friend’s yard and then it snowed.

But when the ground thawed, the
red rope was gone.  

They say to always imagine walking
a mile in someone else’s shoes.  But

what if those shoes are your father’s
and what if your father died in
a wheelchair and every time you
put on his loafers you feel as though
you are tired and just wanting
to sing?

It is the rising in the mornings
that I love.  The way you move a little
closer to me as soon as I stir and
you won’t let me up.

Heather Bell-


Translated From Spanish By Cesar Chavez:

The first time I met Revolución, he told me he would not kiss me,
he was on his way into battle and then he went up to the
microphone.  I wanted to kill him for the things he said.

He said not to shoot until you see the whites of their
insides.  He looked at me, he said wounds accumulate
over your heart, your heart is a helmet, wear it as you

would wear your own face.  He touched my shoulder
as he passed me from the front of the crowd and
I should have pressed back as if he was the cold side
of night.  

Translated From Spanish By Ricardo Reyes Basoalto:

You took me into your arms, smoothed the mustache above
my lip as if it is a beautiful star.  You smell of mulberry smoke,

and if these are the saddest lines tonight, let them be the
curve of your armpit as you raise your hands to my cheek,
whisper: my beautiful one.  You, at the killing-

microphone: it is a miracle! The way I can still breathe
in this room filled with tuberculosis and sadness.  You
are talking about the fresh smell of dirt over graves and
I can smell it.

Translated From Spanish By Rodrigo Díaz de Viva:

To my warhorse: eat the gulls and black bears.
Eat the spines of beautiful women.  Eat the goldfinches

in my wife’s hair. Eat the crown of slugs we carry in
our mouths.  Eat the Hiroshima.  Eat the apricot
shaped hands of my burned brother.  Eat the wrists

of the untouched.  You, warhorse at the microphone,
tell me more of palm leaved enemy, love and
something else that looks like it.

Translated From Spanish By Lucila de María del Perpetuo Socorro Godoy Alcayaga:

Many people would judge you for the time you spent
hurting other people, but you never hurt me.  You look
at everyone as though they are the tiny X-Acto knife you
keep hidden in your sleeve.  If you were a burned corpse

and they asked me to identify you, I would be able to
do that.  Your skeleton is abnormally large in the torso
as if you needed the space to hold a lot of memories.

“Or you, me, and your Andean deer.  Which we all
know was just a metaphor for your heart,” you tell me.
Did I know that?  Your leather jacket is hanging

from a hook by the door and everyone cheers, I
can see their names flash quickly, one after another
and everyone, I know, feels relevant.  Killing

is like that.  If your head was blown off in combat,
I would still know it was you from your birthmark
in the shape of your own shadow, on your left hand.

Translated From Spanish By Federico García Lorca:

Too late to make a difference is what we
always think of after a loved one goes away.  If you

were still here, I would tell you that.  But all you
left me was a wolf in a man suit, shouting at me,
do this do this do this.

I take a breath from a paper bag and it smells
of the tomatoes I bought earlier.  You are holding
them now, saying that you can crush anything

and I notice that right before you squeeze, you
look in my direction and I think for a moment I

have made you change your mind, that these
tomatoes are hearts, all of ours.  But you
shoot them with a Mauser HSc (your father’s)
and I notice you look frightened, for a moment,
but no one else sees it and everyone is smiling.

Heather Bell: Her work has been published in Rattle, Grasslimb, Barnwood, Poets/Artists and Third Wednesday and many others.  She was nominated for the 2009 and 2011 Pushcart Prize from Rattle and also won the New Letters 2009 Poetry Prize.  Heather has also published four books.  Any more details can be found here: