Jason Bell

'Ancient Mandala' from Tibet


My wife comes home unhappy
from a black day among the mortals.
So hard to be here, kneeling, when

for one stark moment, we realize that
to stand
is only to display the adult umbra;

that all that shining is only cast
toward us by accident, not by some distant,
bright desire to spare us dark.

We need to just admit
that day is when the dark
comes down to hunt.

After all, we created constellations
only out of shapes
that were familiar to us.

Skeletal virgin, a bull, sharp-clawed Cancer.
We can't connect unknowns, that's all.
But to have made this vastness

of our ignorance,
God's face, if it were ever turned to us,
must surely be so different.

So. Feel better, darling. Or
believe the other filament (they're only two):
a proper monster, some hopeful clots of light.

Then, give your parabolic sermon. Gather guilt,
or crowds. But either way,
grin up into the night.

Jason Bell grew up on various islands of the Pacific, and now lives in Charlottesville, VA. He has worked as a chef, a poet in the schools, and is now creative director for a software firm. His work has appeared in Paris Review, Harper's, and many other periodicals.