Absence of Stars | Nicole Rollender

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Nicole Rollender is editor of Stitches. Her work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Alaska Quarterly ReviewBest New PoetsThe Journal, THRUSH Poetry JournalWest Branch, Word Riot and others. Her full-length poetry collection, Louder Than Everything You Love, is forthcoming from ELJ Publications. She’s the author of the chapbooks Arrangement of Desire (Pudding House Publications, 2007), Bone of My Bone, a winner in Blood Pudding Press’s 2015 Chapbook Contest, and Ghost Tongue (Porkbelly Press, 2016). She’s the recipient of poetry prizes from CALYX JournalRuminate Magazine and Princemere Journal



Before Sleep, Say


Women who club a mare’s head

wash their hands, naming what’s gone.


My mouth is entangled with winter.

The voice of God cauldrons: wetted


earth, fetlock, talons, the other side

of ravage. Will they be lost? 


Women have sewn for centuries

while wintering, heart and ancient fish


bone on cloth. Their hands suffer

on tables of flowers, birthing shrouds. 


The saints can’t come to me in dream.

I fling apples into eternity,


homesick for flying.