Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.

Nicole Rollender

Yesterday’s Gutted Girl

Peasant Woman with Buckets by Kasimir Malevich

When you open your mouth.      for food.           & broth.       for praise.      for, oh help me.
all that’s holily lonely.       she’ll pour in salt. If.          you revere.      the Lord’s five.

wounds, there’s.           land so massive.          divine & bone.   I didn’t slip my.
hand into his side.         I didn’t ask.          when a body’s safe.    to stay alive in.     & didn’t.

un-conjure the mothers.        hiding when babies.         cry under bright.        hills.
Where souls press.           all our longing.           against rusted rain-.            dotted windows.

I don’t tell.           my daughter a school.          mate died. .His body’s.         tiny bungalow.
Sundown’s quieting.           bones. Later, .I explain.        the avocado-pit.            tumor. 

But what an immense.        land he has now.           she tells me.             Someday, her grief.
a memory:            nightingale frozen.       under ice.         For the mother’s.            puddling.

reflection, ghost.           animal in spruce.        Bees descended.        Still, the trees’ singing.
Pray.              for humility—the mice.        our traps.   caught,            hunger snapped.

their necks.      Can we walk.        under sunlight spinning.         through the garden.        Gate.
back into.            our olden days?            Which is me harmonizing chaos.        Landscape.

in which God’s.                everything. .Where.         you earn.          no more glory.       If pain.
looks like radiant.           city ruins. .Yesterday’s.              gutted girl.         Oh.    But we begin again.

My mother told.                       me my name.           The door shut.          before I looked.          back.
& met her.      quiet eyes,               every girl in me.          leaping, my cast-.     iron darkness.

gold & jumbled.      feverish wings.      perched on purgatory’s.           coast:     The wind.
A thirsty child.                Red dress, always.        unable to reach.            the bird bath, God’s.

resurrected nightingale.           singing until.         it’s time.         it’s time.      to come home.


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: Peasant Woman with Buckets by Kasimir Malevich (1879-1935). No medium specified. 75.7 x 75.1 cm. 1912. Public domain.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.