Poetry Suite by Bella

Editor Sam Preminger, Poetry, October 3rd, 2019

"how the flesh hugs onto the bone again"

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Poetry by Bella

Illustration by Shannon Christie

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A note from the editor:

The poems below are sparing in their beauty and challenging in their content. Throughout Bella’s words you’ll find no floral language, no extravagance nor witticisms nor playful poetic whims. This poetry is blunt, terse, each syllable refined to a point. It speaks to abuse and trauma with a gut punch of stanzas, with stifling and scarring hurt. So why should you, dear reader, open yourself to this suite? Why welcome pain into your life?

Because the pain is only the surface of the story.
Because these spurs edge us onward, faster and bolder.
Because the scars are transformed by Bella’s words into badges of self-love, of grace.

And yet, what follows is only a sliver of the story. All of these poems are excerpted from Bella’s forthcoming collection — Side Effects of Remembering the Little Things — and have been selected to best give a glimpse into the larger narrative which her book unveils. For the full story, find Bella’s debut collection at lightshippress.com

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Hands

 

You’d always 

show me 

your hands 

after.

Bloody, 

bruised, 

and cut.

 

Oh how sacrificial 

you became.

 

I should be thankful 

you made the wall 

your church instead of 

my body.

 

Let me praise 

all the dents 

that could’ve been 

etched into my bones.

 

But no,

You’d never go that far.

No.

Just a sermon

of cursed words.

Teach me 

how to worship you 

the right way.

Ask for forgiveness.

Be a blessing.

Not let you sacrifice again 

the hands that hold me

close at night.

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Sink

 

Eventually, 

you learn all the ways 

you make him act 

like this towards you.

 

So angry.

 

And you start to regret yourself.

Ask yourself why you are like this.

You never used to be.

 

Eventually, you learn 

all the ways to sink.

Become less. 

Bury deeper into 

explaining yourself.

 

How you’ll act better next time.

 

Eventually, you learn 

all the ways to swallow.

 

Carefully choose all your words 

and stuff the rest back down your throat.

 

Make them taste sweet.

Only speak when he wants to listen.

 

Eventually, you learn 

all the ways to stay.

 

Because you, eventually, learn 

to believe no one else 

will love you like this.

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Goodbye

 

You haven’t left me yet.

 

I wonder how many goodbyes 

it takes to not taste you 

on another man’s lips.

How much time has to pass 

to not feel your hands 

whenever men touch me.

How many showers it takes 

to scrub off the scent of you.

To not dress myself in the aftermath.

To not carry all the weight left over.

To not search for a body 

that’ll prove you wrong.

 

Prove that I can be loved 

the right way.

 

When can I take me back again?

 

When will I get 

all the benefits 

I thought were promised 

after walking away?

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The Perfect Bandaid

 

An ode to my scars.

A daily reminder 

of how the body 

processes pain. 

How it lets it soak 

deep into the tissues.

Allows the experience 

to rush into the bloodstream.

Feel the way 

this pain makes 

your heart beat.

 

And oh how it carries this new-found heaviness

with soft enough hands to bear how human I am.

 

And oh how beautiful it is 

when the body pieces itself back together, 

how the flesh hugs onto the bone again.

 

Look how the body heals after the wound,

is patient in the grieving process.

How it gives me the privilege of seeing 

the steps of healing.

 

Lets me know that it is not impossible.

 

How it forgives with a scar.

The body’s way of saying: 

look what you overcame.

The sweetest I love you.

The perfect bandaid.

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Bella is a Southern California grown writer who resides in Portland, Oregon. She is the 2019 Portland Poetry Grand Slam Champion, and has performed at various events such as the WeMake Disrupt Conference, Invisible Spectrums and Intersect Fest. Her poem Joy will be featured in Black Arts Tables Anthology set to release in spring 2020. Bella’s  poetry centers around her experiences being a woman of color, her eating disorder, abusive relationships, and the hope between it all. Side Effects of Remembering the Little Things is her debut book with Lightship Press (www.lightshippress.com). Through her work she hopes to create connection, conversation, and understanding so we all feel a little less alone. You can pre-order Bella’s book and find about more about Bella at bellapoetry.com.

 

Shannon Christie is a Southern California-born, Portland, Oregon-raised illustrator. She attended the University of Oregon where she majored in Psychology and minored in Studio Art. Collaborating makes the world go round for her, and she is hungry to continue using her talents to bring life to stories that provoke thoughtfulness, reflection, and personal growth. Her focuses on both psychology and art in her life give her inspiration and perspective on how a piece moves a person and how creativity connects us all. 

You can find more of her work on her portfolio site, www.shannon‑christie.com, or follow her on Instagram at @whatshannondoes.

 

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Sam Preminger

Sam Preminger is a Portland-based poet. Their work has appeared throughout various publications and they hold an MFA from Pacific University.