Sorrow Singing

O, hip bone (yours) over thigh bone (mine) buttressing (cathedral-body night)
what we cannot bar.                                                We will not gate it

(any longer): this pink bird of thundering (sometimes gorgeous), the beast undoing
what we’ve made: (a marriage                                                      in gossamer).

I never told you my great-grandmother stopped attending church. Our daughter sings
doxology at                                                           her window (open) so

the neighbors hear her glory. Two black-hooded nuns forced her (my grandmother)
to hit her brother                 over and over                         in front of the class

red marks burning (now) into all our arms. Sicut erat in principio,
when the word became                                                     flesh, the ghosted holy

over, et nunc, my plague-masked face (the woman you see), et semper, if we can
unbless (our union)                                                        make it newly feathered,

et in saecula saeculorum, (which world) any place we feel alive again, our skin
unharmed by wind                                                         by flame, by living (hand).

Nicole Rollender is the author of the poetry collection, Louder Than Everything You Love (ELJ Editions, 2015), and the poetry chapbooks Arrangement of Desire (Pudding House Publications), Absence of Stars (dancing girl press & studio), Ghost Tongue (Porkbelly Press), and Bone of My Bone, a winning manuscript in Blood Pudding Press’s 2015 Chapbook Contest. Her work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, The Journal, Memorious, Radar Poetry, PANK, Salt Hill Journal, Thrush Poetry Journal, Word Riot and West Branch, among others. She’s the recipient of a 2017 poetry fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts, and poetry prizes from CALYX Journal, Princemere Journal and Ruminate Magazine. She earned her MFA in poetry at the Pennsylvania State University. She’s the editor-in-chief of Wearables and executive director of branded content & professional development at the Advertising Specialty Institute. In 2016, she was named one of FOLIO’s Top Women in Media. Visit her online at