Poems by Gina Franco


The Bells

passed over the shadows and put our soles on their vanity which seems a body


The Bells


A rap on the screen, a boy she knows
leaning in the glare at the door,
and she, hearing the sudden plugging
of the church bells, must’ve looked
startled, for he straightened
and nodded toward the river’s ruins
where, he said, they might poke around
on a day like this, this Sunday morning.
His orange cap turns in his methodical hands
as they hike with the din of the bells
down to the old gym and crawl
through on of its busted eyes
into the crypt of the basement damp
where he grips her palm to palm,
and presses her towards a corner
until her mouth dodges his in a daze-
wondering, she can’t help it,
if somewhere she has seen this before,
so much vain reaching, almost in passing,
he laughing, and she too,
laughing, but gauging the tiles back
through the belly of the building
to the stark fact of the outside light,
the bells shifting above floodwater,
Red Cross shovels, sandbags, trucks,
all laboring while the toll from the tower
rises over the wet clay drifts.
She thinks of her father, devoted, among this,
maybe tugging his gloves, maybe worried
about typhoid and tin-dipped water,
or fishing through the barrels from helicopters
filled with government cheese and cereal,

how little room there is for awe-
you’re so pretty, Jesus, so pretty-
or disillusionment even as it breaks open,
and the fist in her chest stirs
toward the pigeons outside as she feels
his fingers, stiff, in her bra, and a fleck
of sun pierces through the basement panes,
death then beauty. Light, then shape.




From THE KEEPSAKE STORM (University of Arizona Press, 2004)