Janet Buck The 2River View, 9.1 (Fall 2004)

The Bell Jar Revisited

You speak as if you’re chewing
on a pair of socks
and I’m supposed to nod in sync,
pretend the sentence has another finale
but drivel and a door slammed
on fading glimmers of light.
When you finally do it
with a gun, or a knife or a bottle
or this or that, Mother will tell me
to show up dressed
in a black wool suit and heels,
ask me to write something gilding
the dead lily with invented color,
shining streaks of honor
upon this felonious waste.

For now, we put you to bed
like a book so teeming with truth
it draws on our closing eyes,
slides to the callous floor.
I watch our predictable signs,
ignoring the stench in the air.
Mother says on perfect cue:
“Let's finish a nice dinner
and ignore all this.”
When I try to turn the page,
she burns my hands.
Can you hear the bell jar ring
as if a nickel's fallen in?
Raspberry sherbet melts
in a crystal-stemmed dish
into the color of blood.
My spoon stays still
on the pure white cloth.

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