Poetry

Nicole Rollender

Second Sight

Golden pollen, horseshoe & sickle. Old iron stench
       steamed to song.

Outside a fieldstone & red Gettysburg barn, you mouth,
       I’m no one

& hand this fruit-stained bible back to the tour guide.
       Left to rot,

a barn without its body: in its leaf, Return to Foster Killingsley’s
       family, if found.


A man who’s called missing until the world’s end. When
      his raptured

bones rise out of these pastures. When we call ourselves
      illumined. What

you want is new words for all the old things. No,
      you want

new names for the same old things. Why can’t you wake
      in your sunlit

bed three decades ago, body clean-pressed as a father’s
      Sunday handkerchiefs?

Your grandparents hadn’t yet crossed evening’s fields, woolen-
       haired trundle

toward a far gate. Blowing through a flock of sheep,
       where we leave

our dead. They’re a homeward wind & we’re broken.
       There’s no difference

between fairies & angels, your daughter says, because they
       all protect

me at night. One day, she might cast away all winged
       things, but now
 

they open their mouths and spill light & sea brine
       into her path. Still,

you tell yourself your deep blue center isn’t—it’s not
      your mother loving

you less than the boys. Naming it something else doesn’t
      change anything. Or

starve it. At night, can you tell your hand from mine?
      Your daughter renamed

her angel 100 times– Indigo, Christian, Hand of God.
      Even though

you’ve read her naming list, you can’t tell her your secrets
      yet: an angel

somewhere misses a body—he never walked
      barefoot

in a misting cornfield. A nail never lodged in his sole.


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. Her work appears in Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, The Journal, and West Branch, among others. She’s managing editor of THRUSH Poetry Journal and holds an MFA from the Pennsylvania State University. Visit her online: www.nicolerollender.com.

Emily Corwin