Poetry by Pauline Bissell
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,
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
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.