The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Bright Stain by Francesa Bell

Things I’d Prefer to Forget

How you placed each gun
in my hands like a live thing,
a coiled spring, a promise.
The .45 with its heft and kick,
its full clip I learned
to slide in, then empty.
The sound when you cocked
your shotgun in the house.
It said, Put up your hands, bitch.
How I jumped, unable to swim,
into the cold of Bitterroot Lake,
because you wanted me to waterski.
Your photographs where I don’t show:
only the rope, the black lake, the spray
of something being dragged.
That you could shoot anything—
gophers, songbirds, grouse
you brought home for dinner.
I hated to eat them.
Their tiny breast meat.
Their easy-snap bones.
Snakes you killed as a boy
with your little bow,
standing on their tails to pierce them.

Your hands clasped
around my throat
during love.
All those flowers
you sent
in apology.

In honor of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, this selection comes from the poetry collection, Bright Stain, available from Red Hen Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Francesca Bell’s poems appear in many magazines, including ELLE, New Ohio Review, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, River Styx, and Rattle. Her translations from Arabic and German appear in Arc, B O D Y, Circumference, Mid-American Review, and The Massachusetts Review. She is the co-translator of Palestinian poet Shatha Abu Hnaish’s collection, A Love That Hovers Like a Bedeviling Mosquito (Dar Fadaat, 2017), and the author of Bright Stain (Red Hen Press, 2019). She lives with her family in Northern California.

As a writer, Nilsa explores gender and diversity issues (including child neglect, domestic violence, homelessness, and sexual abuse). Her work has appeared in the Huffington Post, The Selkie, and several other literary journals. It’s also been featured at Miami Book Fair’s LipService True Stories out Loud Miami, the Writing Class Radio podcast, and at the “Muses and Music” a multidisciplinary event of the Cream Literary Alliance. Nilsa is also the Editor of The Wardrobe and Doubleback Review. Nilsa can be found reading or at the beach.

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