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Jeffrey Bean

Jeffrey Bean is the author of the poetry collections Woman Putting on Pearls (Red Mountain Press, 2017) and Diminished Fifth (WordTech Communications, 2009) and the chapbooks The Voyeur's Litany (Anabiosis Press, 2016) and Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2014). He is a professor of English at Central Michigan University and lives in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

By This Poet

6

Ella’s Plan

She’ll hold her hand out a window
on a June day, snatch a chubby fistful of air,
clutch it all night beneath her sheets. 

Out of a dream of flight she’ll emerge,
vast as a yard of clover, and fall like a comforter
over the neighborhood. Then she’ll shimmer

like a maple in the wind. You might catch a whiff
of pine-sweet air—that’s her hair—but she’ll never
let you look right at her. She’ll dart in your periphery,

quick as a dining room mouse. Dusk,
she’ll gobble her handful of breeze, and puff
upward in pieces, into the hot-pink west.

How Ella Knows

Ella’s hands know she’s alive today.
Her piano is drenched in sunlight,
 
and she spends the morning coaxing hums
from its belly. She has made a pet of the wind,
 
and she lets it in through the screen door, feeds it
dried blooms from a rhododendron.
 
She thinks about all the mirrors in the houses
on her block. Then she crosses the street
 
to her neighbor’s yellow door, peers
through the mail slot. It’s dark in there,
 
and all she sees is a stack
of blue plates on a table. Where
 
are the secret drawers filled with cigarettes
and diaries? Where are the boxes of pliers
 
and hammers, the screws flexing
their tiny shoulders? The needles and gum?
 
When a spider drifts up toward the ceiling,
the afternoon stops moving. Ella stares
 
for a long time. Then she blinks,
and the leaves go back to sizzling.

Kid, this is October,

you can make the maples blaze
just by stopping to look,
you can set your clock to the barks
of geese. Somewhere the grandfathers
who own this town lean down to iron
crisp blue shirts, their faces bathing
in steam, and blackbirds
clamor in packs,
make plans behind corn.

You know this,
you were born whistling
at crackling stars, you snap
your fingers and big turtles
slide out of rivers to answer.

You can swim one more time
in the puddle of sun
in your water glass, taste icicles
already in the white crunch
of your lunch apple. Go
to sleep. I’ll put on my silver suit
and chase the sky into the moon.