Wise Poets – Francesca Bell – What Small Sound

Francesca Bell

In the audiologist’s booth I clutch the device with the button
I’m to press if I hear a tone, hand clammy, the way
a child holds the finger of an adult she thinks can save her. 

Behind the one-way glass, my ears are cupped in the pinching 
headset, cilia becalmed, the quiet so thick I cannot stop 
myself from thinking of Jupiter, its plentiful moons 

I’m afraid to look at through the telescope, the stillness out there strong
enough to suck me in. What small sound might those moons make, 
spinning in their vacuum, while I sit for what I know is too long 

between tones? I’m here to bear witness to this deafness 
that expands imperceptibly, the way the universe, they say, 
is expanding even as my world narrows, sound swirling round the drain 

of this loss. Into the silence of the audiologist’s booth 
fall consonants, vowels, rain against my windows, my lover’s voice 
disappearing like a star’s light being swallowed and swallowed as it dies. 


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