The Sad Epistles / Emma Bolden

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 Emma Bolden’s work has been published or is forthcoming in the Greensboro Review, Redivider, Prairie Schooner, the Indiana Review, Copper Nickel, Feminist Studies, MARGIE , Verse, Green Mountains Review, Poet Lore, Cimarron Review, 32 Poems, Salamander, and on She is the author of How To Recognize A Lady, published as part of Edge by Edge, the third in Toadlily Press’ Quartet Series; The Mariner’s Wife, published by Finishing Line Press; and The Sad Epistles, available from Dancing Girl Press. She was the recipient of a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and was named a finalist for a Ruth Lilly Fellowship by the Poetry Foundation/Poetry magazine. She is a visiting assistant professor of English and creative writing at Georgetown College, where she also serves as poetry editor of The Georgetown Review.

from The Sad Epistles

Epistle IX.
Variations on the Theme of I Want

If only I if only.
This is not simple to say.
This turns itself to longing, this screws itself into plea.
You don’t know what my bare legs mean.
Translate as cane or as manacle, translate as oiled and slid-open safe.
When I look at you I think blue or berry or the crush of sweet between teeth.
For too long have I cradled a toothache, the perfume of ills
protected from the dear doctor’s lance.
Hold me down and I’ll let you. Bid me violence and storm.
If there were a way well what then
And I thought of course you did and
I meant I know you do you yes then
Inexplicable by number. Not a bright bulleted list.
Send me a reckoning I can reckon with
your teeth on my nipple
your teeth on my teeth.
This is the call and the cry for
this is the pill full of sleep