Poetry: Rebecca Bella

Healer Seen on TV

“I can see into people,”
she declares, stirs birch branches
on the surface of the pool,
legs pinked by the bath
and the beating with saplings
she takes regularly.

“When someone is sick,
I see—intestines are knotted,
a palsy in his knee.
I tell him what tea and exercise to take.”
She sucks and gathers breath,
“There are no doctors where we live.”

Television pictures her—
last day of high school,
decked out as Queen of Spades,
a gigolette, a blond girl,
quacking with her friends.
She draws the best diploma,

And winds a free ride
to the Medical Institute:
stethoscopes, X-rays,
and electron microscopy.
The mothers of the cripples
weep to see her go.

The Kabbalist

He read until the veins of the windowpanes
pulsed with Ein Sof,
and when the glass burst from its leaded frames
he shut the book and went forth

from the library under the green
of the ending day,
and evening so long and bird-like preened
that an egret flew out of the sky.

She was pale as the arm of a woman
spread in dance
and though her species was not human,
he tried to show her his love.

Pulling three woolen strands from his coat,
he laid them on the embankment,
gestured and stepped back to coax
her visitation.

She flew in, the narrow-limbed egret,
took his strings in her beak,
and as evening was swallowing the sunset,
stick-walked into the dark.

He rushed forward onto the riverside loam
of the delta’s stinking jaw,
coat dragging in mud, ecstatic, her name,
“I see you, Shekhinah!”

This city in me

hums with constant mechanism:
the squall of wheels on rails,
the trolley’s trilling door
delivering to travails
the secretarial technicians
and the working poor.

It patters like the brick makers
forming Wordsworth’s path;
their fingerprints in clay
reveal in aftermath
industry as ghost-maker,
of the driven day.

Conscience cups her ears
against the sluicing squeal
of bleed-steam heating cut
by a band saw carving steel,
and the seagull veers
over swamps at Wamiset.

The city in me has seen
a million midnight rides
of frenzied rebel thought
dismissed when morning chides
the student for his spleen
to distort the lesson taught.

Here, hard grind and hope,
sunspots on Hancock’s dome,
the river seaward flows,
I cycle speeding home,
to wash in balsam soap,
splint my little woes.

REBECCA BELLA is a translator and a poet. She grew up in Boston and has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia. She completed the BU Poetry program in 2005. She’s currently working on a play in verse and a collection of poems called Beautiful Nobody. She will be living in San Francisco as of July 1, 2006.

(c) copyright 2006, Rebecca Bella; author retains all rights.