Emma Bolden

All too overed & undered, open
the heart latch, moon-opalled,

you, woman milked of every last
shining example of loss, every

little pretty you could build of your own
flesh & hair. You who stitched sinew

& tendon into the wall meant to hold
the river back, as if the body itself

were a force, as if you could pray
yourself miracle, raw & lucid. Against

the windowpane pecked the beak
of the bird you read as death’s letter.

Every marbled April shrank to the glow
of a night cat’s eye. There was never an ending

more beautiful than the moment
you knew it had ended already, there was

nothing more beautiful than the word
surrender, a hand not built for holding but

for the miracle you prayed for.
It was letting go.

Emma Bolden is the author of a memoir, The Tiger and the Cage (Soft Skull), and the poetry collections House Is an Enigma, medi(t)ations, and Maleficae. Her work has appeared in such journals as Ploughshares, the Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, New Madrid, TriQuarterly, Shenandoah, and the Greensboro Review. The recipient of an NEA Fellowship, she is an editor of Screen Door Review.

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