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Nicole Rollender

The Etymology of Sacrifice

Hieratic Suprematist Cross, Black Over Red by Kasimir Malevich

My son asked if I could have given him for adoption—or offered him to be cut in half to satisfy another mother. When I turned my body over to grow his, I didn’t expect the bleeding or broken placenta that cast him out nine weeks early. But those stars shining over me then are the same ones silently watching now. One day his childhood will end. One day I’ll become part of his past. If one of us dies, we’re still alive in a smartphone: us laughing in our fireball red Trans Am, a firebird flying through the Pine Barrens. We’re laughing over “Paradise City,” the wind pulling my black & purple hair through open T-tops. He’s a little boy who understands the cross, but still expects to be happy. Sacrifice, if a verb, circa 1300, “to offer something to a deity as an expression of thanks, devotion or penitence”: God, how could you turn over your son to this world?


About the writer:
A 2017 New Jersey 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. Nicole holds an MFA from the Pennsylvania State University. She’s also co-founder and CEO of Strand Writing Services.

Image: Hieratic Suprematist Cross, Black Over Red by Kasimir Malevich (1879-1935). Oil on canvas. 84 x 69.5 cm. 1920. Public domain.

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