Cara Dees

Bell Ghazal

Alexander Graham Bell’s wife, whom he married the day after he patented the telephone, never did learn sign language. Or any other language.
—Anne Carson, “The Gender of Sound”

Small electricities settle in the ear, a liquid, stubborn ringing.
The thrum of an insect shaking its wings. The mourners in a ring

around your grave, rippling like foxgloves tuning their bells to the wind.
And I know foxgloves thrill full and sad, because above them, thick rings

of scent shiver the air, the way your hands did when you played Bach
on the piano, and I held my palm above the keys to catch the pure ringing

of your fingers. My nerves are exact—I honed them to every one
of your frequencies. When you did not eat for days and rings

silvered below your eyes, I felt an alarm pulse deep in the bone.
Now even the slightest sparrow’s cry sets my blood to whispering.

I am going blind, my light shot clean through. It bleeds softly
as the shadows snake closer. Love, it’s like a hurt of smoke, a ring

of iron tightening. But I continue your experiments regardless.
I design cars for the sky, planes for water, an endless ring

of mechanical transformations. A catalogue of brilliancies, like your
wedding gift—1,500 shares of Bell stock, pearl necklace, gold ring,

little silver telephone. All the same, my lip-reading lacks in something—
the entire body speaking at once, like deaf children who wring

words from their hands effortlessly in the schoolyard,
a verb compassed in the casual arc of a wrist, the widening ring

of an arm. An unquiet silence. The phone is ringing, your voice
from the darkening earth – Mabel? The phone is not ringing.

Cara Dees is an MFA candidate at Vanderbilt University and studied Creative Writing, English, and French at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A former English teacher in southern France, she is currently Editor of Comics and Co-Editor of Poetry at Nashville Review. Her poetry is also available in Muzzle Magazine.