by em jollie

“If you meet a woman…who sails her life with strength and grace and assurance, talk to her! And what you will find is that there has been a suffering, that at some time she has left herself for hanging dead.” — Sena Jeter Naslund, Ahab’s Wife

The landscape of Western Mass sprawls, mute
as a Rand McNally and as full of invisible
From the top of Mount Sugarloaf I see scrawled topographies
of rape, brutality, magic: bruised ingredients.
Untidy childhood. Long ago I climbed these mountains
and came down the other side. Mostly

unscarred, I have returned to New England
for this: the way fire brushes brilliant hues
across a canvas of foliage. For this: the way
wind lends wings to the leaves
in their terrific tumbling.
And for this: the hovering of bumblebees,
busy with the instinct to savor
their last days (sweet like honey
and difficult to swallow).
I have come back to this campus, too, to my
books — pages bound
to radiate reason, meaning,
a certain steadiness. I meet
a man named Marcus Aurelius
who, through a fissure in time, whispers
there is only the present. I know he is not
lying — I have never been that shattered little girl.
I have always been this strong
young woman
who refuses the choreography composed
by her memories and chooses, instead
the song of each new Autumn

there is only this day
there is only this dance
& all I need is the melody
of my one self, infinitely


Journal, Volume 2 Issue 7