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  • Two Poems
  • Anna Lena Phillips Bell (bio)

Against Stoicism

An itch, untouched,will twitch and wail

till an answering scratchunhitches hell.

A tempered squealcan conjure oil.

Squeak, wheel.You may as well.

[End Page 627]


Seventeen, I slipped into a blueshimmer of satin, slid my card, slipped outof Dillard's to my mother's shock at the priceand into the hope of glow—of a newlooked-on self, chin tilted, indifferent,a gleaming, silvered surface. But getting dressed,I spilled nail polish remover over the skirt,seared its shine off. In the scattered lightof the altered gym, the sleek dress drew me tallas I drew in to hide the slashes downmy thigh. My date pretended not to notice.But I could tell: pretending I was thishad a limit, and I'd reached it. I stood, still,in the sheen of all I had: my satin, my stain. [End Page 628]

Anna Lena Phillips Bell

Anna Lena Phillips Bell is the author of Ornament, winner of the Vassar Miller Prize. Her poems have appeared in 32 Poems, Quarterly West, the Arkansas International, and the Southern Review.



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