For this spring

by Justin Bell

There is a way a cardinal looks at itself in the reflector and decides

it must destroy itself --- before the casting of the first stone, before

the weight of a beak scoops out the contents of a skull, I learned

to hate the sharper sides of my hands

weakened them in pill bottles

until I switched to a smoother substance, this spring’s soil. What 

leads me back to retrieval --- endless emptying out, then filling up 

--- again and again? I turn forward the veins of the ground and question

where so much taking has gotten me. A bird hatching twice, far too

late in the season; a moon flower closing as the sun touches its skin;

these are my dreams. 

          How dreams always become a deep black orange. 

Dreams turn to ink bubbling over the sun. Hiding amongst the loam I 

spotted stars, but the stars that become blacker things to suck everything

in. And somehow I couldn’t lock eyes with them. What if shame isn’t the

revealing of the root towards the air, but the sinking deeper to the same

water that brought it there? When all the hostas are 

            set apart ---their fingers

gripping the marl like a naked throat---they will settle because my hands 

returned them. They will forgive me like nothing ever has.

About the Author

Justin Bell began writing through the Creative Writing program at Knox College, but he currently studies as a master’s student at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has previously been published in the student publications Catch Magazine, Cellar Door, and most recently in Signatures Art and Literary Magazine.