Francesca Bell

With a Little Education

This is what became of the homely high school boy

with the fine hands and big brain: he ended up sliding

his fingers all day into the vaginas of other men’s wives.

Expensive women who book six months ahead

to take off their clothes for him. He keeps them

waiting under a harsh light and thin sheet

before delivering their silver-spoon babies and bad news,

before roving his skilled hands over all the cheerful flesh

once so firmly out of his reach. They send him flowers,

page him after hours, confiding

when their sex lives are painful or dried up entirely.

He coaches them to remind their deal-making,

deposition-taking husbands of the grave

importance of foreplay. He touches their sleeves

as they leave with what could only be mistaken

for tenderness, and smiles, knowing they wonder

what he does with his hands at night. How different

his landscape looks now: his stool a rolling throne,

the world he has mastered spread glorious before him.

If only he had known, when he was pimpled

and pained, that even the hearts of the beautiful burn

in the third trimester, that age bursts in,

without mercy, on everyone, even those girls

as effervescent and confusing as champagne.

If only he’d known how easy it would be,

with a little education, to wake each morning

to a string of women, naked in his offices,

ready for him.




“With a Little Education” first appeared in Rattle.