/emma bolden

To Winter

How I love the look of you, the little
white windows pausing my view

of the outside in order to show me
my own breath. Even the mud bears

a lesson about stillness in the body
of a frog whose breath slows to sleep

and survival. Frost-laced, gray-lipped, each
day consumed by the art of holding

a lid of ice over all the bright spaces
where life will lift its leaves. Later.

Like death–it is almost enough
to believe–blooms from the body

and onto the earth that the body
now is, a strange new green.

In Midlife I Feel a New Hunger

Consider it a nothing. Consider hunger
an ache cradled against the skin until it pearls
up and into a tooth. This is the mouth I use

to eat the world. This is the mouth
through which I let exit the scream
that the world does not permit. So many

things the world does not permit
because the world refuses to acknowledge
it is a collection of screams. Of gutters

and glitter sloughed off to trash. How many
moments lie like this, a fish gutted by the hook
that looked so much like a feeding?

This is the mouth I use to refuse the hook
and its feeding. What the world told me
about my own body is that its worth

belongs to what it can do for the world.
A collage of asphalt and memory, shit
shoveled off the sidewalks. The past

is not a ghost. It is a building scraping
the rain off of the sky. A thousand clouds
glower down as a man announces

there’s no such thing as rain. Why
should my mouth stay closed just because
it’s now closer to belonging to a ghost?

Consider a nothing as something. Consider
the worth of a thousand fists, raised against
what the world demands should be razed.

Emma Bolden is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, House Is An Enigma (Southeast Missouri State University Press), medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press) and Maleficae (GenPop Books), and four chapbooks. She received a 2017 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A Barthelme Prize and Spoon River Poetry Review Editor’s Prize winner, her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Best Small Fictions, and Poetry Daily as well as such journals as the Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, New Madrid, TriQuarterly, Conduit, the Indiana Review, Shenandoah, the Greensboro Review, Feminist Studies, Monkeybicycle, The Pinch, and Guernica. She currently serves as Associate Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Quarterly.