Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Issue Forty
Spring 2016
 
REFRAIN
Nicole Rollender

What version of me thought of death as a small,
bright house I’d row toward, lux aeterna on its lintel—

the doorway I’d walk through on a wintry night
while blackbirds sat crowned with snow,

wings glinting an elegy for the separations I failed to mend.
I remember what I learned as a child,

to attend every small thing: pull strawberries
off their low plants, smell rain coming over the hills,

close my eyes to the dark and count breaths
until I dream of a blackbird lying in a field, flightless.

The blackbird’s beak gaped in snow.
The blackbird an open grave.

There’s always another blackbird: swooped, then stopped
with a cocked head, looking this way–the way

through my bones into being forgotten. The language is a bruise
under my tongue: We betray the body. We handle

the tools. The taste is salt at birth or a drowning.
In some way, my ribs are bound to the earth.

This blessing blackened, cracking
the way no longer lit. And the change is a fallen blackbird.

I’m inside the change. The light moving across the old
fields is me moving beyond skin,

beyond such a brittle skein, within this
procession. O, such shining, shining feathers,

their glisten, death’s bone
in my bread.

About Nicole Rollender

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