Judith
Nicole Rollender
She grasped the broken starling, dust-chested 
feathers between her tiny fingers in a kind

of triumph, like she stepped from a backlit
painting, a miniature light-haired Judith,

who as a girl went into the woods and found
a creature beneath a tree. Nearly dead,

its heart beating out, her eye next to its head 
lulling its flickering, finger-stroke on shredded 

wings, placing branches for a blanket, a stone 
to hold the twigs in place. How could I tell 

her that her beauty, her lilac breath, her singing
isn't what stilled this bird, but how surely she

pushed down on its chest, the rock that killed
the starling cast aside? He's sleeping now, she

whispers, the beak dragging next to her thumb.
Judith knew something of darkness, breathing

into a man's mouth before cracking his neck. 
The freedom after a slay, the slackened jaw.

The resurrection plays over again every night. 
This child does circles on the grass, leg shadows

twining with the reflection of flight, released. 
Nicole Rollender is assistant poetry editor at Minerva Rising Literary Journal and editor of Stitches. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, The Journal, Radar Poetry, Salt Hill Journal, THRUSH Poetry Journal, and others. Her first full-length poetry collection, Louder Than Everything You Love, is forthcoming from ELJ Publications. She is the author of the chapbooks Absence of Stars (dancing girl press & studio),Arrangement of Desire (Pudding House Publications) and Bone of My Bone, a winner in Blood Pudding Press's 2015 Chapbook Contest, forthcoming this year. She's the recipient of poetry prizes from CALYX Journal, Ruminate Magazine and Princemere Journal. Find her online at www.nicolerollender.com.


more by Nicole Rollender:
Dying