Emma Bolden


First there is a once and the time
upon which it stands. Then the place
setting, obvious as a table. A copse
of trees. A copse of starling corpses.

A doctor’s office, its tedious wallpaper.
Now you have the world and now you have
a woman. Give her short legs and short
arms that mock their sleeves. Give her

hunger. Give her a hand crooked over
the crook of a cane. Be kind. Give her
a bench to sit on. Give her iron well
wrought. Give her a cushion and fill

it with down. Fill her with doubt.
Fill her with the kind of life that fills
the world: ache and anger, thirst and fury.
Give her legs and don’t let them walk. Watch.


Emma Bolden is the author of three chapbooks of poetry: How to Recognize a Lady, (part of Edge by Edge, the third in Toadlily Press’ Quartet Series); The Mariner’s Wife (Finishing Line Press); and The Sad Epistles (Dancing Girl Press). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as the Indiana Review, The Journal, The Greensboro Review, Feminist Studies, Prairie Schooner, Redivider, and Verse. She has been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes. She is an assistant professor at Georgia Southern University and blogs at A Century of Nerve.