I really learned to live with leaving. He always
broke my heart – You, walking out on me again. All you
bring me back is a bone. A bone … but that’s
because I guarded my heart. My ribs stayed
crossed over it, white bone over water. Now,
he sleeps like strawberries, like asparagus, and birds
near his quiet eyes. I’ve tasted shame and want,
their sour and bitters still on my tongue: You
say I deny how I’ve lived, that I won’t account
properly for my stubbornness. Do bindweeds,
beautiful with purple trumpet-flowers that close
to sleep at twilight, apologize for choking plain
bean plants or dusty potatoes? We’re all touched
by the light: an eye for an eye, ashes to ashes, my
dust mingles with yours. You’d want me to say,
Go free. Turn toward the sun. Kiss the wind. Take
flight. But you’re just like your father: My life is a scarred
field. Go, turn away, marigold seeds scattering in autumn.
This prayer or that one, to burn me out of your body.
There will be no seat for me at your table. You’ve never
asked me what I wanted. God have mercy on your soul:
Yes, I would have chosen another life if I was present
at my beginning.
Nicole Rollender’s poetry and nonfiction have been published in various literary magazines, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Creative Nonfiction, Dark Matter Journal, Enizagam, The Kenning Journal, Literary Mama, Princemere Poetry Journal, Ruminate Magazine, Salt Hill Journal, the strange fruit, Third Wednesday and The Whirlwind Review. She’s the winner of Ruminate Magazine’s 2012 Janet B. McCabe poetry prize for her poem, “Necessary Work,” which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She also won Princemere Poetry Journal’s 2012 Princemere’s Poetry Prize for her poem, “Quickening.” Her poetry chapbook Arrangement of Desire was published by Pudding House Publications in 2007. Nicole, who has an MFA in creative writing from Penn State University, is editor of Stitches magazine, which has been nominated for two Jesse H. Neal Awards and won the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) 2011 Magazine of the Year Award.