Emily Rose Cole is a writer and lyricist from Pennsylvania. She is an MFA candidate in poetry at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and has received awards from Jabberwock Review, Ruminate Magazine, Philadelphia Stories, and the Academy of American Poets. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod, Spoon River Poetry Review, Yemassee, and Passages North, among others.
At Cimetière de Terre Cabade
I walk in the shadow of headstones pocked
with mums and white violets, a lone sunflower.
In France, all the cities close for the dead.
No school, no bread, no early grapes
from the outdoor market. It’s Toussaint,
twelve days after I left you
in the ground back in Pennsylvania,
and the graveyards are littered
with eyes—a cat growling
through the scrub, that daisy wrecked
with worms, ripped leaves trembling
under my bootheels. The air is thick
with ghosts, Mama, and I wonder
if you miss me. Lacing my arms
through an angel’s, I swing onto a grave,
flowers falling at my feet, to cup
a cherub’s cheek. Its eyes gawp
back at me, and Mama,
they aren’t full of anything—not life
not grief, just stone polished
to a mirror, my face sliced
by the shadow of its wings.
the south wind scrabbles
down brick-stitched streets,
strewing Place du Capitole with ashtrays,
snatched shawls, a child’s lost umbrella,
& rears the crumpled ivy into whips,
claws through slatted shutters to champ
its hard, gray mouth against the back
of my neck & wrench
me from a dream of my dead-
eyed mother shrieking
as a biopsy needle burrows
marrow-deep into her hipbone &
I judder like a door blown open.
Love Poem to Risk
after Catherine Pierce
You move over my chest like the swab
of iodine before the scalpel. You are the fourth
shot of whiskey at a party I leave too late, the heels
I wear walking home after dark, and the man
watching me from the other side of the street.
When I was thirteen, you made me pack a go-bag –
toothbrush, Walkman, second-favorite dress,
a note for my mother that said I’m better off
gone. You’re the reason I can leave anywhere
in under five minutes, always a carry-on stashed
under the bed. But I I’ve never stopped seeing you
for what you are: the siren’s stuttering keen
and the storm cellar’s loose hinges,
both the lightning that doesn’t feather
my arm, and the charred ground beside me.
You touch your teeth to my pulse
and claim nothing good happens without you.
I still can't say you're wrong.