Enjoy Being Human

Emma Bolden

An Unmothered Guide to Grief

First, wax your fingers. Fill the cup of your mouth with raw
egg, your ears with cotton culled straight from its stalk,
for someone will say that grief is seven stages you must

play through in costume, and someone will say that grief is
a beauty because it means you have lost, because it means you
have loved. Understand: grief instead steps heavy in the valleys

beyond have, beyond hold, in the spaces where there are no
objects nor arms. Like any loved thing, your little grief deserves
to be nurtured. Let it lie down in skied pastures, speaking

the green taste off grass tongues. Carve a door inside of
your door. Carve a door inside of your belly, draw an arrow
with blackberry jam. Point to the place meant to grow

a sweetness you could love inside of its weepings, its sleep–
less shit and storms, the syncopated terror of its song. Let grief
be your most favorite. Let grief be the song that troubles down

the keys of your spine, out the flat bass of your feet
and into the room standing open as a safe that ate its own
key. Do not be afraid. Let loss become your best, the one

sweet spoon of a friend who is always walking towards
because she knows no other way out of away.

The Plight Troth

Language tasted like a trick laid bare
as the back of an orchid huffing
out hothouse fumes, extravagant
as any freedom feels at first

unlike feeling, more like the numb
a doctor gives as a gift to the skin
before needling the vein

of an understanding, jelly pale,
afloat & estranged as sea. He said
he'd like to marry into innocence,
said a virgin is a value blue as a bad

joke & inside the sweet humming circle
of a she, humiliated, there quartzed
a will sharp enough to slice

any blade from grass to flame to finish
the fist that broke her like a horse
who'll never loose the wild
from her blaze of a mane.  

Shower Season

I sickened with sugar. I needed to clear the sky, stop sinking
my teeth into the corners of the ocean, into the blue

that curdles the peel of a clementine, sweet as the smile
on a news anchor's face after the cut back from a televised

disaster. Perhaps it's natural, my need to take home a meaning
not a moment, smooth & buttered, napkined over, a prison

of mints set out to celebrate two people promising to be
the same, or one person stringing together a new tune inside

the swollen cello of her body. Under the false–hooded winter
of every store's air I was conditioned to look through the pinks,

the peonied cards standing in toothed rows that grinned
greetings, belled lilies stretched over the valley of sympathy, so

I began to believe in believing, the way they told me to life. Silked
& unsuffered. I necked the tender loop of a narrative's noose.

About Emma Bolden

Contributor headshot, Emma Bolden

Emma Bolden is the author of medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press) and Maleficae (GenPop Books), as well as four chapbooks. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Best American Poetry, Poetry Daily, and The Best Small Fictions as well as journals such as Gulf Coast, StoryQuarterly, Shenandoah, The Pinch, Prairie Schooner, New Madrid, the Colorado Review, Conduit, and TriQuarterly. Her honors include a 2017 Creative Writing Fellowship from the NEA and the Barthelme Prize for Short Prose. She serves as Senior Reviews Editor for Tupelo Quarterly.

She can be found on the web at www.emmabolden.com and on twitter at Emmabo.

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