by Emma Bolden

And later on you find her
scent in laundry soap and fall

through her fall-colored hair, her skin
the smooth beige of expensive paint,

your cheek on her cheek lost
in angora and violet and this is the way

that it never was, though once
you wanted to zip off her skin

and step into it. You stood four grades
and five feet behind her, drying your hands

and watching her trace the line
of her mouth with lipstick you imagined

as a kind of tongue torn
from between those lips, a tongue

as frozen red as yours
must have been, to stand in silence

with all of her there, to stand there silent
and not beg her then.

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.