Elegy with Due Date


The river is not a road so is an invitation

for the mind to roam the spaces between


cities where mines still pine like bulbs

for a springtime-worth of weight.


Don’t all seeds long to blossom

their coiled code? Even the dead


don’t know how to stay

closed, worming as they do, rooting


as they do. Leafing new

into the same sweet light.


The river reveals nothing

of where things vanish to,


only the ghost-pool

of my own gaze.


This date knives

right through, passes


like any other day. My body changes,

but less vividly. I can only call it healing.


I can only heal, as the battlefields

this river feeds do, scabbing green


over the soldier graves, the child graves,

there is nothing it can’t stomach


into fuel. It should be easy to stomach

loss the size of a walnut,


an apricot, when there are more atoms

in my body than stars


in the known universe. I don’t know

if we are the reflection


or if God refracts nightly into stars

to shame us. Either way, we’re mostly space


and survival. We can only stay dead

a little while, before green muscles in


to wake us.


Erin Rodoni is the author of Body, in Good Light (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2017) and A Landscape for Loss, which won the 2016 Stevens Manuscript Prize sponsored by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies and is forthcoming later this year. Her work has appeared in Colorado Review, Cimarron Review, Drunken Boat, Ninth Letter, Spoon River Poetry Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and The Adroit Journal, among others. Her poems have also been included in the Best New Poets anthology, featured on Verse Daily, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and honored with an Intro Journals Award from the Association of Writers and Writing programs. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two young daughters.