Nicole Rollender

Bone of My Bone

I am my own land, unmanageable. There’s a cross
            road where my hands and lips intersect

with an illumined city’s windows open to blackbirds
            that promise to come through branches,

incising a woman’s kitchen, the reliquaria of domesticity –
            white-draped ducks’ broken necks rising

on counters. How do I measure the body’s gardens
            from within its bone fences? A woman’s skin

is one world. The birth canal is another – how you lived
            in a bell or an oyster, rocking back and forth

in seaweed for a long time. Who hatches from it, shining
            through rain? In the old world, piss prophets mixed

a woman’s lemon urine with wine to discern what
            was in the womb. A hand held out for a zinnia

if she empties, if a distant horse runs back
            to God, if a boat grows smaller, its cargo

of consecrated pears now rotting. My mother will curl
            into herself, as will I, as did my grandmother, joints

unloosening more than a century after her birth. I put
            the lines that grew on her skin into a bowl, muddy

my fingers in her waxiness and into her dead eye,
            unraveling her, seaming her skin, blanching her

bones back to such a shine, like a giant star’s last open
            into brilliance. The unhurried light is dying, drunken

bees dropping into water, isn’t it? My body is made
            from these flat-footed women – when I step

outside not knowing where I’m headed, one of them wakes
            from her dream of owls calling and hisses,

We created you from what we saved.

Nicole Rollender’s work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets and THRUSH Poetry Journal. Her full-length poetry collection, Louder Than Everything You Love, is forthcoming from ELJ Publications. Her chapbooks are Absence of Stars (dancing girl), Bone of My Bone (Blood Pudding Press) and Arrangement of Desire. Find her here: