about the author

Nicole Rollender is editor of Stitches. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, The Journal, Radar Poetry, Salt Hill Journal, THRUSH Poetry Journal, West Branch, and others. Her first full-length poetry collection, Louder Than Everything You Love, is forthcoming from ELJ Publications. She is the author of the chapbooks Absence of Stars (dancing girl press & studio), Arrangement of Desire (Pudding House Publications), and Bone of My Bone, a winner in Blood Pudding Press’s 2015 Chapbook Contest, forthcoming this year. She’s the recipient of poetry prizes from CALYX Journal, Ruminate Magazine, and Princemere Journal. Find her online at nicolerollender.com.

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Hymn (1): What Precedes Eternal Day

Nicole Rollender

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Outside the birds are dying of cold on their branches,
and you’re looking for a way into heaven.
Break me of being woman, break me of talking to the dead.
How could you know how my lips hurt when you haven’t kissed?

Rest your forehead on the hearth. When the fire is out, the spirit
tingles with contrition.
                                   Consider these miracles:
a circle for the woman who chases her shadow,
a bag of portable fields,
a mother who plants skulls in soil and grows sunflowers,
one hour in praise of a hummingbird.
Let the wolves within me say their names. These hands, furrow.
Let asps crawl
                                   into logs. Let this tree be saved.

God can’t dip his fingers in spring water. Neither
can the dead. Woman, lower your bucket and drink
in your Lord.
He can’t cut these split carcasses on the block—
a butcher must crack backbone and find the deepest vein
to drink. Through the wide earth the promise goes,
I cry for you, God, who has no
                                  hands or feet on earth anymore.
Release your hands into mine, your tree unrooting
in the storm you spit out.

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