wicked alice| fall 2010


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Virginia Bell

 

WHAT HOLDS CONSTANT 9/1/09

 

Iíll tell you a story: itís 1971, a sixteen year old girl

boards a greyhound in New Jersey to get across the state line

 

and into Philadelphia where something tiny will be taken

from her body. All of this will have happened by the time

 

she opens the screen door to the smell of tomatoes,

a ready knife in her motherís hand. But tonight it is 2009

 

and I am reading to my son: we learn that a robot

is simply a machine with a computer inside it

 

and may mimic the form and function of a beetle

or an ant. One day soon, scientists will make a robot

 

so small it can hide inside a pill and we will give each other

these pills to swallow. Once inside, the robots will peck

 

their way out with tooled limbs and set about to fix us.

My son already knows this to be true: when pavement

 

licks the skin, a team of microscopic craftsmen

with pouches at the hip journey quickly to the site,

 

pour blood like mixed concrete, tack down cells like tiles,

then scuba away into the bodyís many damp tunnels.

 

The sixteen year old girl remembers the loose metal latch

on the door to the toilet at the back of the bus.

 

Things came out where things had gone in--and it was

worth it. This desire to crawl in, or to be crawled into,

 

holds constant. This insistence on seeping out, too,

or being shoved. Oxygen in its relation to hydrogen.

 

 


 

Virginia Bellís poetry has appeared in A Writersí Congress: Chicago Poets on Barack Obamaís Inauguration, Ekphrasis, Woman Made Galleryís Her Mark 2009, Contrary Magazine, Beltway Poetry Quarterly and The Innisfree Poetry Journal. After teaching part-time in the English Department at Georgetown University for ten years, she moved to Evanston, IL in 2007, where she is now an associate editor with RHINO Magazine and an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago. She has also published scholarly articles on activist writers such as Rosario Castellanos, Eduardo Galeano, and Leslie Marmon Silko, and pedagogical material such as The Instructorís Resource Manual for Beyond Borders: A Cultural Reader (Houghton Mifflin 2003).