“Elegy” by Emma Bolden

Were we really so briefly together inside
this solemn world, inside that neon
restaurant that served octopus arms

raw and wet with light, where you said
you never know if you’re looking up
and into the blue we call sky or the wide

wild surface of the ocean that drowns you.
Even then you taught me that. Hunger
is a hollow unfillable. Every argument we have

is with our own ghost. And see how a nothing
blossoms into a something, into the memory
where your hand lifts a bowl, where you lift

the trembling glisten of a tentacle to your lips
as if to leave it all behind as a record
of your moments, each movement a reckoning

of will. An anchor of light sunk into the world
your death made into an ocean. I can’t stop
searching for reflection. Your upturned face.

Emma Bolden is the author of three full-length collections of poetry—House Is An Enigma (Southeast Missouri State University Press), medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press) and Maleficae (GenPop Books)—and four chapbooks. She received a 2017 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a 2019 Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. A Barthelme Prize and Spoon River Poetry Review Editor’s Prize winner, her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Best Small Fictions, and Poetry Daily as well as such journals as Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, New Madrid, TriQuarterly, Conduit, Indiana Review, Shenandoah, Greensboro Review, Feminist Studies, Monkeybicycle, The Pinch, and Guernica. She currently serves as associate editor-in-chief of Tupelo Quarterly and as an editor of Screen Door Review: Literary Voices of the Queer South.


Image: Film still from “blackened by fire I will be beautiful” by Alan Coon

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