The lake deep stains
with water lilies. Marsh grass
wants float – where we always return.
Father, blind in one eye,
sinks under moon drift and leaf fall.
What chartless world he’ll enter tomorrow
is flowers lingering closed at night,
dead by week’s end. Is sight
enough? He follows the man walking
a red mountain path toward a village,
where a woman holds a cradle of bread,
his reckoning at the gate. What man will emerge?
What we need (joy into remembering) passes
away, a well of fasting, what’s alone creating
streets of paper lanterns and bells underwater,
the lilies falling to seeds. Another kind
of palimpsest: A mossed deer skull
stippled with evening rain licks salt
from his palm, opening to fog, to opening.
Nicole Rollender’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, The Journal, Memorious, THRUSH Poetry Journal, West Branch, Word Riot and others. Her first full-length collection, Louder Than Everything You Love, was published by ELJ Publications in 2015. She’s the author of the poetry chapbooks Arrangement of Desire (Pudding House Publications, 2007), Absence of Stars (dancing girl press & studio, 2015), Bone of My Bone, a winner in Blood Pudding Press’s 2015 Chapbook Contest, and Ghost Tongue (Porkbelly Press, 2016). She has received poetry prizes from CALYX Journal, Ruminate Magazine and Princemere Journal. Find her online at www.nicolerollender.com.
Ben McClendon is a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Tennessee. He previously studied poetry at Northern Arizona University after teaching high school English for several years. His poems have appeared in Indiana Review, Yemassee, Ceasura, Chariton Review, Redivider, Rattle, and elsewhere. He is currently Assistant Poetry Editor for Grist: The Journal for Writers and a poetry editor for Four Ties Lit Review. Ben lives with his husband in Knoxville.