Nicole Rollender

Noctuary

Painted wings

knifing all this shimmer. I’m caught
here, yet this can’t last. Bones sprouting

among grasses.

A midwife hanged for lost children. Exposed
lamb sliding out, eyes still shut. Behold, horse

teeth. Slow

hum of an old cat’s heart. An elegy that saints the mother.
Another father smashing his daughter’s

favorite record.

What happened is always happening somewhere.
How what I’ve done today—wrote a few

discordant lines

—a woman’s face, mosaicked in Pompeii—counts
as more than marginalia. How a magnolia

flower still

floats in a bowl. Tell me a story of how
prayer stopped a drowning. Honeysuckle,

ram-trampled.

Tell me why abstaining from meat saves another
from dying. Tell me a story about an aloof

bird coven.

A hunter kneels in a field. Ritual of summer noon, full sun.
Our hands make shadow girls shear

over the lawn. These

smallest, insidious kingdoms.

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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.