Emma Bolden


At the End of the Day’s Just a Night

Emma Bolden

Over time everything gets easier
except dying, which is why we have built
such grand houses for it, such hospitals

& cathedrals, such marble monuments
scarred with human faces. In none
of them are we comfortable. No matter

the incense, the Clorox, no matter
the requisite awe of a beauty
chipped out by human hands, no

matter the candles waving their little
orange flags of flame, it is awkward.
God gives us the silent treatment, & God

is a patience forever. Sometimes
at night I wake into this strange body
& ask it & the night where we’ve been.

Despite the insistence of poets, the stars
will never be an answer. Despite my own
insistence, a sky is just a sky. It is

awkward. To be a body laying prone
beneath a nothingness that speaks your name.

space break

How a Body Lies

her heart blossomed into no     struggled & unlucky
a dress as torn apart as                a mother, trying not to

cancer the big house, the white fence thrilling          a heart
with the keys knocking                    an ignition unlit

she occasionally took     she started freaking
every marriage looked like                    an abandoned

car                    a bombshell of denial & the difficulties
of caution                    boy he was a beautiful

guitar’d & long haired                    all the distance
to Georgia                    she had never even seen him

all that time he tried to secret                    he broke
the war’s records                    did she even want

pay dirted into duct tape                    a pickaxe, a shovel
her body a bizarre discovery                    she began to vanish into

anyone else                    evidence suggests a desire sworn & taken
to the grave                    she failed to mention, she fell

missing, she fell out                    of the car into the roadway
under the narrative he built                    into the house & its halls

& its grays                    evidence suggests a trial, reports of her
guilt rising even as his                    hands shoveled out her grave

Constructed with language from 48 Hours Mystery: Body of Lies

Emma Bolden is the author of House Is an Enigma (Southeast Missouri State University Press), medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press), and Maleficae (GenPop Books). The recipient of an NEA Fellowship, her work has appeared in The Norton Introduction to Literature, The Best American Poetry, and such journals as the Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, New Madrid, TriQuarterly, Shenandoah, and the Greensboro Review. She currently serves as Associate Editor-in-Chief for Tupelo Quarterly and as an editor for the Screen Door Review.