The Conch

Poetry by Pauline Bissell

Knuckling under
the pressure of your left ear 
    in the space where my ribs splay,
I feel you hold still.
         We both know it,
curled on your side against me, 
like a comma,
you’re listening
to my heart beat, you say,
         and I ease into your weight in the dark and feel you feel
             this pulse that has never yet ceased.
I imagine that you are instead hearing 
the solemn strokes of a knell 
in my chest,
your eyes squeezing shut, 
        driving out any frail glimmers of light,
                   to pretend that maybe the steady pounding of my heart
is actually the sound of victory bells
        roaring on,
in a resolute, unwavering ovation, 
on and on, ricocheting
        off each rib.
I imagine you listening
to my body buzzing with its own applause. 

But maybe we are nothing like that at all.
as I lie there trying
not to disrupt the iambs in your ears,
I think that perhaps we are nothing more
than a child with their ear pressed in the satin curve of a shell
listening to a tide that has never ebbed and flowed
hearing a sea where there is nothing more than blood pumping
        where, on the other side,
        there is nothing living at all.

About the Author:

Pauline Bissell is a sophomore English major at Amherst College. She is from Los Angeles. 

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