Mothers and Daughters: Intermittent Signal (Non c’è campo)


My sister’s voice
shattered across
an inconsistent, oscillating
stammering in and out
of being
then gone
but imprinted
on the field
not of you are here
but of you are this.


My grandmother’s pearl
earrings oscillating
one black pearl one
the color of cream
thick with fat.
– she moves her head, lifting
her hands to speak
two palms holding up
a weightless field –
her lips move and issue
the sound of glass


I am made up of stars that are not, or
the container of their memory:
fireworks cracking the saint’s day
of the insomniac night
I became not always
the one who leaves
but the one who is (for her)
the fertile field/the constant star.


How long until she knows
what it is to be the glass
flowing into flatness,
ceding the vertical,
breaking the light,
into water?

by Bonnie McClellan

"non c'è campo" photograph by Bonnie Broussard

a note on the title: Italians often refer to a place in which there is no reception for mobile devices as “un posto dove non c’è campo” – although the word campo translates as field (with the same degree of semantic density as field in English) it also implies range or depth of field.

By bonniemcclellan

Mother, poet, american ex-pat from Texas living in Northern Italy.


  1. This is intricate and prompts a lot of thought. I like the echoes between the stanzas of chosen words and images, and the way you play with the idea of intermittent signals when thinking of those who are distant from us. You arouse my curiosity by talking in the title of mothers and daughters but then in the stanzas of sisters and grandmothers – each is just a metonym, I guess, for all those whom we love. It makes rewarding reading.

    1. I’m very grateful that you’ve taken the time to read so attentively. This whole series is about the sensation of connectedness between generations, that every daughter has a mother and so the grandmother is, as you noticed, a metonym for ‘mothers’ and ‘sister’ for daughters though the role-name they are given makes them seen (from the perspective of the title) in one’s peripheral vision – blinking in and out as they are emotionally present while physically absent.

  2. I don’t know anything at all about poetry but this is beautiful. I just read it quietly and out loud and it is beautiful

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: