Collect of the Before Us
Imagine a clearing empty with sound. If I tremble
the river trembles the river trembles the river
is not an excuse for the bridge laid over it.
Like any work carried on backs it is its own
bones. The shallow fossilization of the once
was. Breath. The river is not an excuse for red
rivering inside the body nor is the red an excuse
for the body nor the body an excuse for the bridge.
Breathe. Imagine a bridge of sound empty. Imagine
the whirled staircase of your own ear. In the clearing
no bushes are burning no burning is an excuse
for the destruction of the bush or the body.
Breath. The shallow recognition of the once-was
where the body was not and the bridge was not
and never had never existed. A garland of stars
blooming outside the idea of seeing. The rich
loam of space that was never nothing, that never
needed the excuse of our breath for its work.
after Mark Strand
In the absence of field is no more
field. When we move, we move mountains
then build our houses on their rubble.
I seek instead to stand, to leave alone
the red bird’s note, unread in its throat.
Let the land stretch from my stillness
to a horizon of stillness beyond me. Let
the sea see. Let bees flower the trees, let
the river rush unharnessed, unswum, frog-sung.
Can you love a place if you don’t leave it be?
We all have ways of keeping. May the earth
have an easy way of letting go of me.
Emma Bolden is the author of House Is An Enigma (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2018), medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press, 2016) and Maleficae (GenPop Books, 2013). The recipient of a 2017 NEA Fellowship, she serves as Associate Editor-in-Chief for Tupelo Quarterly. You can find her at EmmaBolden.com or on Twitter @emmabo.