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Nicole Rollender

The preparation of the body



Maybe this is just a form of sleep.

Your fingers curled around an oar. We’d have to break

metacarpals and phalanges

to separate your hand from the waves

and the stones. The sinking under the moon, the overturn,

dirt still underneath nails. Your ceramic tongue,

your ruined eyes, three lost ribs. One summer you left your paper

dolls on a train in Amiens. The fields were miraculous. Your fingers

weren’t like leather. They moved like lace against the windows.

Now, we gather your teeth in a jar, plait your hair

like women knotting a doll’s hair, tie you to the earth

with a kind of vine to create order. But, the world widens

inside your skull. Soon you’ll split into many dark shapes.


Notes for the end of my life


Do you hear bells calling us home?


A ghost is entering me

 her legs sliding into mine.


Yes, speak.


Yes, speak me into place.


At dusk she inhales an ocean.


Move over, I want to inhabit cortical bone.


When I kneel next to the bed to pray


        she boils my marrows.


What it is to be chosen, teeth loosening in sleep, for vanishing.


I believe a moth jags death’s flight.

You can listen for a voice heating my wrist.

Outside the nighthouse, I cleave myself in two.


It’s not enough to name desire


          follow its many hands.


Lamb crouching under a bush


                                              this ghost tongue parts my black lips to speak.


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