A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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Bells (original)

Cory wanted to wait

till we were married.

That made me wonder, if maybe

he didn’t really want me, or if

he would turn out to be some

religious nut or if something else

was wrong.

My cousin Mary married a guy

who was always talking about how

there’s more to love than sex,

“Which is all very well,” she said,

as she went to file for the divorce

a week after the wedding, “except

there’s more to sex than

one hand up and one hand down, too,

or so I’ve heard. I wouldn’t know

from that marriage,” she said,

giving the pepper tree a near miss

as she pulled out of the driveway.

“I mean, that’s what I had

     when I slept alone, but at least

               my hands knew what they were doing.

Which is more,” she said, “than he could claim.”

“Mary,” I said, “should I drive?”

“—and anyway, he needs to learn a little about

tact and timing, because

even if he’s got a point,

he shouldn’t try to make it and me

at the same time!”

At the corner, she stopped. There was

no stop sign there, and

               no traffic.

“Mary,” I said, “I think I better drive.”

The car lurched as she

               put it in gear.

“—trying to look so

sensitive and sweet,

caring more about me than my body,

and all because he couldn’t do it!

The creep. The fraud.”

“Mary, will you let me drive!”

She heard me that time.

“I’m all right,” she said,

still laughing, or hiccupping, and tears

streamed down her face.

“Then pull over,” I said, “and let me out.”

“And what’s got you?” she asked.

“I just want to live through

this crisis in your life, is all,” I said,

“Now give me the wheel or go alone.”

She hit the brakes so hard she

jarred the fillings in my teeth, then

marched around the front

     end of the car (right in the middle

of the street, mind you, though she’d had the grace

     to stop at a red light) while I

     slid across the seat, behind the wheel.

The passenger door jerked open, slammed,

     the light turned green.

“He used to quote Shakespeare at me,”

     she said, beating her hands

     on the dashboard. “I thought it was romantic.

Agh! Don’t tell me about

the marriage of true minds. Come on, Linda,

     you wanted to drive, so drive!”

I drove.

As we pulled up to the courthouse, she said,

     “There’s a lesson to be learned here:

get them in bed first. Tried and true.

Better a slut than a virgin.

That’s my motto from now on.”


You see why I had to wonder.

But he made it clear enough

he wanted me, and it became clear enough that

everything was in working order down there, because

while there were lines he wouldn’t cross,

     they were generously drawn.

And I found out a few things

about my own working parts as well, that

things were rather better lubricated and capable of

     higher pitches than I’d yet realized.

So I said, Okay. But, I said,

we better get married soon,

or we ain’t gonna make it,

unless you put an ocean between us.

“They already tried that,” he said,


That meant getting married in San Francisco,

because my mother’s version of a wedding, I said,

will take six months to plan, and

there’s no way I’m driving

half-way across the country with you, I said,

and not be able to sleep with you.

Maybe I can do it, I said

               but I’m not interested in trying.

So I went back

to the courthouse, this time for a wedding.

Mine. Mary was my witness.

I drove.

“You’re crazy,” she said. “You mean you haven’t

slept with him yet?

Don’t you remember

what happened to me? Didn’t you hear

what I told you?”

Till I said at last,

     “Mary, this is my wedding day,

     remember? So please—be happy for me.”

Then there he was on the steps

and I ran up them, quickly.

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