Nicole Rollender

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Flung From the Body

A dead zebra on her side—we watch YouTube—the lioness deep in the bloody belly. Cry of a bird in branches—my son looks up at the TV, in front of a wood fire—our own sudden awareness of our lives’ shortness. In the distance, the other zebras watch & lower their heads to twitching, barbarous grass. Sun setting in the video, everything partly in shadows. We kiss our son’s forehead. Echoes on water—of song, lamentation, caroling—your own story of surviving on earth. Far season of apples—that scent on wind of a father holding the child’s hand, shuffling through leaves, back to the lighted house & cider. Sometimes, I’m sure the world has tired of me—questions arising in the heart: Who stays? Who’s left behind? My son mimics the wild bird’s flight in firelight with his small hands, fast wings splay—reminding me of veiled women in old churches, hands unfurling rosary beads. Who’s leaving? The world may have forgotten them—but they still name my body of smoke, of fire in their prayers. The voices of the ones I love—my son calls to me, “Mama, death’s so giant”—I take in these honeyed figs. We were here. Bruised. Feeding. I wonder when I’ll go from the world—in rain, through fog, in hail’s underbreath, pebbles skittering among the soul’s ruins, between teeth & flower. Sketch of myrtle blooms climbing from my skull’s dark sockets. & what will the living remember about me? Something about persist & exist, a low hum in the mist, something about love.

“Flung From the Body,” read by Nicole Rollender.

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 Palette Poetry, Gigantic Sequins, CALYX Journal and Ruminate Magazine. Her work appears in Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, Ninth Letter, Puerto del Sol, Salt Hill Journal and West Branch, among many other journals. She’s managing editor at THRUSH Poetry Journal. Nicole holds an MFA from the Pennsylvania State University. She’s also co-founder and CEO of Strand Writing Services. Visit her online:

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Photo Credit: “Lion eating a zebra, National park of Kenya, Africa” by VOLODYMYR BURDIAK, Wikimedia Commons. Modified by Veronica McDonald.

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