A History of Loss

by Emma Bolden

All through that spring I held him
a yolk shelled, water glassed, a body
of air which shoves its shoulders
against the rubber walls of a balloon.


I put his house in order: room
for living, room for bedding, room
for sitting, white doilies perched with lace
wings spread over the couch’s branch. Collapse


came slowly. First a spread seam
in the table’s base. Then chairs
unlegged themselves. Undrawered, the lettuce
laid down its leaves. Peaches peeled


and browned their flesh. The wash
I left will never dry, the cat never
again sing his song to winging
birds. The uncaged red bellied bird


himself flew down my throat, found
a home hanging in my rib’s cage, trilling
and trilling O what have you
left, o what have you.


Emma Bolden’s chapbooks include How to Recognize a Lady (part of Edge by Edge, Toadlily Press), The Mariner’s Wife (Finishing Line Press), and The Sad Epistles (Dancing Girl Press). She was a finalist for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s First Book Prize and for a Ruth Lily Fellowship. She is an assistant professor of Creative Writing at Georgia Southern University.