Nicole Rollender

Grow to Love the Vanishing

In a bed of succulents, I dream I’m barren. Dreaming

my son into a white horse. Jangle of shoehorns.

Of eternity, a world no one can own. Woman lifting

a jug, a puff of flour at the bottom. This house,

where everything’s familiar, but foreign. In a bed

of succulents, his eye’s tender pool. I’m unlike women

who save rhapsodic things to pass down: wedding bone

china, silver, scrapbooks of faded summers. Mountain

that outlives me. Why traveling only toward the light

breeds another drowning. Sleepers in your garden,

choiring marrow-glow—who’s to say the baffling lantern

I see in the dark isn’t me, coming for me? Feathering

ill wind. Remembering you telling me to go under

—part otherworldly, shimmer of blue tracks across snow.

Because our bodies can’t stop haunting each other. Crooked

flowering crown, horsefly swarm. Tiny tracks flighted,

the opal-veiled virgin in the medieval painting’s middle

distance, where falcons return, then vanish. Why living

on heaven’s brim isn’t living. Our barbaric virtues

emptying my body of the song no one remembers.

Watch as I grow to love what’s taking me away.


A 2017 NJ Council on the Arts poetry fellow, Nicole Rollender is the author of the poetry collection, Louder Than Everything You Love (Five Oaks Press), and four poetry chapbooks. She has won poetry prizes from Gigantic Sequins, CALYX Journal, Princemere Journal and Ruminate Magazine and her work appears in Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, The Journal and Ninth Letter. Nicole is managing editor of THRUSH Poetry Journal and holds an MFA from the Pennsylvania State University.