by Nicole Rollender
Who can tell the difference between the forest and a lantern—
the flame turning its red eye against the glass, caught.
Because I’ve carried a doll’s cracked head in my right pocket,
its open mouth boiling over with a calm light,
an unheralded light that traveled through an ice age to land
here, I say to you, I mourn no one. I can live cold. Holding
this head over and over to memorize wanting him, a wanting,
to remember touching bones, his black eyes doors
to a sea where I clutched the rails of a ship—
wanting this particular shadow, the outlines of the miraculum
that flowered out of his irises,
a path back to my body in damp grass,
this hammering of what it is to really be desperate,
to will a heart to speak, speak—
hold a light so briefly that was never meant to be mine.
Nicole Rollender’s work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, The Journal, THRUSH Poetry Journal, West Branch, Word Riot and others. Louder Than Everything You Love is her first full-length poetry collection (ELJ Publications). She’s the author of the poetry chapbooks Arrangement of Desire (Pudding House Publications, 2007), Absence of Stars (dancing girl press & studio, 2015), Bone of My Bone, a winner in Blood Pudding Press’s 2015 Chapbook Contest, and Ghost Tongue (Porkbelly Press, 2016). She has received poetry prizes from CALYX Journal, Ruminate Magazine and Princemere Journal.